Lawsuit Launched to Seek Habitat Protection for 49 Endangered Hawaiian Species
News Release from Center for Biological Diversity, May 25, 2022
HONOLULU— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect critical habitat for 49 endangered Hawaiian Islands species. These species include the ‘Akē‘akē, also known as the band-rumped storm-petrel, and the Nalo Meli Maoli, also called the Hawaiian yellow-faced bee.
These 49 animal and plant species are found nowhere else in the world outside of Hawai’i. They’re threatened by urbanization, damage from nonnative and invasive species, wildfires and water extraction. These threats are made worse by the increasing effects of climate change.
“It seems obvious, but without places for these species to call home they will go extinct,” said Maxx Phillips, Hawai’i director at the Center. “Hawai’i is already known as the extinction capital of the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service must do more to protect habitat for these 49 irreplaceable species before it’s too late.”
The Service protected all 49 species as endangered on September 30, 2016, but failed to designate critical habitat as required.
“Given the passage of nearly six years, it’s doubtful the Service was ever going to protect habitat for these 49 species,” said Phillips. “This is an agency that’s not doing its job to protect species from extinction. It’s badly in need of reform and more resources.”
In 2021 nine other Hawaiian species were declared extinct, highlighting the need for swift action.
‘Akē‘akē: This distinct population of ‘akē‘akē, or band-rumped storm petrel, in Hawaiʻi returns to land from its life at sea to mate and breed. Hawaiian mountains provide the perfect habitat for these small, oceanic birds to make burrows as nest sites for their young. Historically they were common across all the Hawaiian Islands, but their population has declined significantly because of habitat loss.
Cyanea kauaulaensis: This shrub doesn’t have a common name and produces bright orange fruit. By the time it was first found in 1989 and identified as a new species in 2012, its habitat was restricted to Kauaula Valley on Maui.
Myrsine fosbergii: These small trees are found in the wet native forests of Oʻahu and Kauaʻi and are easily spotted because of their narrow green leaves that end in a dark purple base. Although formerly common, the species is now down to fewer than 85 remaining individuals because of habitat destruction by feral pigs and goats.
Nalo Meli Maoli: Included within the 49 species are seven different species of yellow-faced bees, also known as nalo meli maoli. These bees represent one of the spectacularly rapid speciations that make Hawaiʻi a biodiversity hotspot.
SA Off the News: Endangered species need habitats