U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release
Thirty-eight species — found on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Lānai, Kahoolawe, and Maui (collectively known as Maui Nui) — were given protection under the Endangered Species Act as endangered species today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). In addition the Service reaffirmed the listing of two endemic Hawaiian plants currently listed as endangered. The Service will work cooperatively with state, federal and Native Hawaiian partners, conservation organizations and private landowners to recover these species and conserve their habitat.
“The addition of these 40 Maui Nui species affords us the opportunity to provide additional protection to these rare species under the Endangered Species Act,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.
The 40 endangered species include 37 plant and three animal species. The 37 plant species include herbs, shrubs, trees and ferns. The three animal species are the Newcomb’s tree snail and two Lānai tree snails.
Of the 40 species, 20 were candidate species (17 plants and three tree snails), 15 are plant species of concern (each with fewer than 50 individuals remaining), and three are other plant species (Cyanea duvalliorum, Cyrtandra ferripilosa, and Mucuna sloanei var. persericea) that share common threats with the other 37 plant species.
In addition, the Service has reaffirmed the listing status of two endangered plants (Cyanea grimesiana ssp. grimesiana and Santalum haleakalae var. lanaiense) whose range has changed since they were originally listed. These 40 species altogether are found in 11 ecosystem types: coastal, lowland dry, lowland mesic, lowland wet, montane dry, montane wet, montane mesic, subalpine, alpine, dry cliff, and wet cliff.
Five plant species that can only be found on Molokai were included on this list: Cyanea profuga (common name haha), Cyanea solanacea (common name popolo), Festuca molokaiensis (no common name), Pittosporum halophilum (common name hoawa) and Schiedea laui (no common name).
The Service is also delisting a Lānai plant, Gahnia lanaiensis. This plant, which is no longer believed to be a valid species, is now known to be synonymous with a species endemic to New Zealand, and is not in danger of extinction or likely to become an endangered species.
Degradation of habitat by non-native ungulates (i.e., pigs, goats, sheep and deer) is considered a threat to a majority of the 40 species. Additional threats are: habitat destruction and modification by non-native plants, fire, stochastic events (e.g., hurricanes, landslides, flooding etc.), agricultural and urban development, and climate change; direct consumption of plants by ungulates (e.g., pigs, deer, sheep and goats); other non-native vertebrates (rats) and nonnative invertebrates (snails and slugs); and inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms and other species-specific threats. The Service finds that all of these species face immediate and significant threats throughout their ranges.
The proposed rule was originally made available to the public on June 11, 2012, and the 60-day comment period was to close on Aug. 10, 2012. The deadline for submitting comments was extended an additional 30 days to Sept. 10, 2012. The comment period was extended to ensure that the public has an adequate opportunity to review and comment on the proposed rule.
An additional comment period was opened on January 31, 2013, in conjunction with the release of the draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat and revised required determinations; that comment period closed on March 4, 2013. Comment on the proposed listing rule was also considered during this most recent comment period, since the proposed rule included both the proposed listings and critical habitat; recent Service guidance, however, has resulted in the proposed listings and proposed critical habitat being completed through two separate rulemakings.
The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others.
The health of threatened and endangered species is strongly linked to the health and well-being of people and communities. Millions of Americans depend on habitat that sustains imperiled species for clean air and water, recreational opportunities and for their livelihoods.
The Service’s priority is to make implementation of the ESA less complex, less contentious and more effective. The agency seeks to accelerate recovery of threatened and endangered species across the nation, while making it easier for people to coexist with these species.
The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to kill, harm or otherwise “take” a listed species, or to possess, import, export or engage in interstate or international commerce of a listed species without authorization in the form of a permit from the Service. The Act also requires all federal agencies to minimize the impact of their activities on listed species, and directs the Service to work with federal agencies and other partners to develop and carry out recovery efforts for those species. Listing also focuses attention on the needs of the species, encouraging conservation efforts by other agencies (federal, state and local), conservation groups and other organizations and individuals.
The final rule was published in the Federal Register on May 28, 2013. Copies of the final rule may be downloaded from the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.
For further information contact: Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Box 50088, Honolulu, HI 96850; telephone 792-9400 or fax 792-9581.