DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR MOSQUITO SUPPRESSION ON KAUAI, JUNE 23, 2023
News Release from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Jun 23, 2023
HONOLULU — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife released a draft environmental assessment for the use of Wolbachia-based incompatible male mosquitoes on the island of Kauaʻi to stop the spread of avian malaria. The draft environmental assessment will be available for public comment for 31 days.
Hawaiʻi’s forest birds are facing an extinction crisis. Avian malaria transmitted by non-native mosquitoes has decimated native forest bird populations, as a single bite from an infected mosquito can be deadly. Of Kauaʻi’s 16 native honeycreepers, 10 have gone extinct and three are listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened or endangered. In October 2022 the Service and the State proposed the Incompatible Insect Technique (IIT) to reduce mosquito populations within approximately 59,204 acres of forest reserves, state parks, and private lands in the Kōkeʻe and Alakaʻi areas of Kauaʻi. This project is intended to suppress mosquitoes known to transmit diseases to native forest birds in critical higher-elevation native forest habitat.
Administrator David Smith of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife said, “Our field teams are reporting that ‘akikiki have almost disappeared from their habitats in the Alaka‘i Plateau. They are working very hard to collect eggs and adult birds this field season, but between avian malaria and predation from rats they are not having much success and believe the end is near for this honeycreeper species in the wild.”
“The use of Wolbachia as an IIT to control disease carrying mosquitoes has been successfully implemented in more than 10 countries throughout the world,” said Earl Campbell, project leader for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “Wolbachia is a bacterium that occurs naturally in 65% of insects that does not employ genetic engineering and does not involve or result in either mosquitoes or bacteria being genetically modified organisms.”
The draft environmental assessment will be available for public comment for 31 days, June 23 to July 24. The document is available via the Department of Land Natural Resources webpage: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/comment/.
Hard copies are available for review at the Hawaiʻi Document Center and the Waimea, Līhuʻe and Princeville branches of the Hawaiʻi State Public Library.
Comments can be submitted in multiple ways:
- Online via the input form at the webpage: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/comment
- Via email to email@example.com
- Via mail, postmarked by July 24, 2023, to: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Attn: Mosquito Control Project, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813
- In writing at the public meeting described below.
A public meeting will be held on July 11, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Kauaʻi Philippine Cultural Center, 4475-f Nuhou St, Lihue, HI 96766
In order to be considered, comments must be received on or before July 24, 2023. All comments and materials received will become part of the public record associated with this action.
(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)
HD video – Saving ‘Akikiki – The Field Team Presses On (web feature):
HD video – Kaua’i Honeycreeper team presses forward media clips (May 10-12, 2023):
Photographs – Mohihi field camp (May 10-12, 2023) – note individual photo credits:
You can learn everything you need to know about Hawai‘i’s native honeycreeper species and the interagency efforts underway to save them from imminent extinction by visiting the Birds, Not Mosquitoes website: https://www.birdsnotmosquitoes.org/frequently-asked-questions
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