After 30 years, US wood storks no longer endangered: Species upgraded to 'threatened'

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The American wood stork, a bird scientists once feared would be extinct by the year 2000, is getting a status upgrade 30 years after it was first listed as an endangered species.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Thursday that the federal government is upgrading the wood stork to a "threatened" species — a step up from endangered that indicates the birds are no longer considered at risk of extinction. She made the announcement at a Georgia wildlife refuge with a large wood stork colony.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates wood storks have increased from roughly 10,000 breeding adults in the 1970s to about 18,000. They nest in wetlands from Florida to the Carolinas.

The Audubon Society says more research should have been done before changing the stork's status.