- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Last week’s news that an ivory-billed woodpecker was discovered in eastern Arkansas resulted in so many e-mails that my computer nearly suffered a fatal crash. Of course, every ornithologist in the world was delighted with the rediscovery of a bird thought to have been extinct since 1988 (and not seen in the United States since 1944). Imagine the excitement created by the sighting of the largest of all U.S. woodpeckers.

I received the happy news from the Department of the Interior, Birdlife International, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Audubon members, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and heaven only knows how many other bird lovers — and I’m grateful to all of them. Not only that, I believe a world record largemouth bass, which would make any angler wealthy, would not generate as much electricity in our corner of the newspaper than the woodpecker. It goes to show how we sometimes misplace priorities.

Meanwhile, John Flicker, the president of the National Audubon Society, said, “All of us who share this planet owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the individuals and organizations whose tireless efforts led to the rediscovery of this bird. … We all have a second chance to save this magnificent woodpecker from extinction.”

The ivory-billed woodpecker is dependent on old-growth forests of large trees, such as cypress, for its habitat. Destruction and fragmentation of virgin bottomland forests throughout the southern United States led to its decline and eventually to its believed extinction.

All I can say is, “Go, ivory-billed woodpecker. May your tribe thrive and increase.”

Give some online input — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Inland Fisheries Division says its regulation proposals for 2006 are available in an online forum for the first time. The public can review these proposals and provide comments to the DNR from now until 4 p.m. on May 20.

Public hearings are held each spring for regulations for the coming year. The online forum was added as another way the public can provide input on proposed changes. Visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/regulations/inland_pchanged.asp

Ultimate outdoor prize package — In conjunction with the start of Outdoor Life Network’s “Ultimate Playground” series, viewers have the opportunity to win the ultimate outdoor prize package. All you need to do is stop by any Bombardier Recreational Products dealer to sign up, then watch the show for a special clue. One lucky winner will win a trailer full of Bombardier “Ultimate Toys,” including a Ski Doo snowmobile, a Sea Doo watercraft, a Bombardier ATV and an Evinrude E-TEC outboard motor. Sweepstakes entries must be received by June3.

The “Ultimate Playground” show takes viewers on an adrenaline-filled look at the world’s most adventurous activities in power sports recreation. The show’s host is outdoor enthusiast and all-around funny man Laird McIntosh.

About those errant captions — Readers who saw our feature Sunday about fishing in Occoquan Reservoir with park ranger Smokey Davis didn’t waste any time letting us know the captions under the three photos seemed to be in the wrong place. They were, but I have no control over such things. The people in charge of making sure the proper caption goes under the right photo probably don’t know the difference between a flounder and a hammerhead shark, never mind telling a crappie from a largemouth bass.

EVENTS

Trout Unlimited chapter meets - Tomorrow, at McLean VFW Post 8241. Public invited to discuss multistate “Back to the Brookie” program. Information: nvatu.org.

Outdoor ethics awards dinner - Monday, 6 p.m., at Carradoc Hall, Holiday Inn, Leesburg, Va. The Loudoun County chapter of the Izaak Walton League recognizes local law enforcement and citizens for their efforts in the enforcement of local game laws and protection of local wildlife against illegal hunting activities. Information: loudouniwla.org or Mike Phillips 703/777-8678.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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