Red-cockaded woodpecker status and management: West Gulf Coastal Plain and Interior Highlands
Red-cockaded woodpecker populations declined precipitously following European settlement and expansion and cutting of the original pine forests across the southeastern United States. By 1990 most residual populations lacked demographic viability, existed in degraded habitat, and were isolated from other populations. The primary causes of this situation were harvest of the original pine forests of the southeastern United States, conversion of forested lands to other uses, short-rotation silvicultural practices, and alteration of the fire regime in the regenerated forests. As social and legal mandates changed, management of red-cockaded woodpeckers became a higher priority. Intensive management for red-cockaded woodpeckers is currently practiced on most public and a few private lands that still support populations. Recent population trends and the current status of red-cockaded woodpeckers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana reflect historical factors and the efficacy of recent management.