By ANDREW DeMILLO
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A federal judge halted a $320 million irrigation project Thursday for fear it could disturb the habitat of a woodpecker that may or may not be extinct.
The dispute involves the ivory-billed woodpecker. The last confirmed sighting of the bird in North America was in 1944, and scientists had thought the species was extinct until 2004, when a kayaker claimed to have spotted one in the area. But scientists have been unable to confirm the sighting.
Still, U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson said that for purposes of the lawsuit brought by environmental groups, he had to assume the woodpecker exists in the area. And he ruled that federal agencies may have violated the Endangered Species Act by not studying the risks fully.
"When an endangered species is allegedly jeopardized, the balance of hardships and public interest tips in favor of the protected species. Here there is evidence" that the ivory-billed woodpecker may be jeopardized, he said.
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This is huge, this is not over and it's gonna get ugly. I personally think there are one to three ivory-billed woodpeckers down there, but there is no concrete proof. Look at the judge's quote, "allegedly jeopordized". That is not going to sit well for those who are pro dam. This could have gigantic ramifications. Will someone try to sue Cornell for declaring the refinding of an extinct bird without concrete proof because the dam is halted? Hm, I wonder if that last sentence is going to end up as a quote on another blog that likes to take things out of context?