The AP is reporting that a federal judge in Arkansas has halted a $320 million irrigation project for fear it could disturb the habitat of the ivory-billed woodpecker that may or may not be extinct.
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.
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.
The project, which was halted by a lack of funds earlier this year, was scheduled to begin again this fall.