Saturday, June 15, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, February 6, 2024
DLNR: Court Ruling Protects Endangered Hawaii Birds from 'Save the Mosquito' Activists
By News Release @ 7:29 PM :: 1313 Views :: Maui County, Environment

JUDGE’S RULING GIVES HAWAI‘I’S ENDANGERED BIRDS A CHANCE FOR SURVIVAL

News Release from DLNR, Feb 6, 2024

(HONOLULU) – First Circuit Court Judge John M. Tonaki has ruled in favor of the DLNR and American Bird Conservancy (ABC), represented by the Center for Biological Diversity, in granting summary judgment and finding the Environmental Assessment prepared for using the Incompatible Insect Technique (IIT) to control mosquito born avian malaria on east Maui was sufficient.

The disease already led to the extinction of many native birds and is responsible for nearly wiping out several remaining species of Hawaiian honeycreepers, so that these birds are on the verge of extinction in the wild.

In approving a Motion for Summary Judgment, Tonaki observed, “In an effort to save Hawaiian birds which are in danger of extinction, the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources seeks to undertake a project that aims to suppress mosquito populations carrying avian malaria.”

Last March, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved a final environmental assessment (FEA) for implementation of the IIT project in east Maui and found it had no significant impact (FONSI).

The plaintiff filed a claim saying the BLNR erroneously accepted the FEA and erroneously issued a FONSI.

In his order Judge Tonaki wrote, “A reading of the FEA reveals that many of the alleged issues raised by Plaintiff, were, in fact, addressed in the FEA and that some of the potential impacts of the project were raised as mere possibilities…There is no genuine issue of material fact relating to whether the DLNR and BLNR complied with the requirements under the Hawai‘i Environmental Policy Act (HEPA).”

DLNR/BLNR Chair Dawn Chang said, “This is a victory for our endangered forest birds who some native Hawaiians consider their ancestors. Historically, mosquitoes were absent from higher elevations due to cooler temperatures. However, climate change has warmed these elevations which now provides favorable conditions for mosquitos to spread avian malaria to this vulnerable bird species. IIT is the most effective and safe technique available for controlling mosquito populations and has been used successfully around the world, as our experts testified during the hearings last summer. The HEPA is an important tool that enables decisionmakers to assess environmental impacts—not the sword by which misinformation kills a project, aimed at saving native species.”

Dr. Chris Farmer, ABC’s Hawai‘i Program Director added, “American Bird Conservancy joined the lawsuit because preventing the extinction of Hawai‘i’s birds due to avian disease and mosquitoes is one of ABC’s highest priorities. ABC and our partners in Birds, Not Mosquitoes (BNM) thoroughly evaluated this effort, and are pleased to see the court also agrees. We strongly believe that this approach is our best chance at preventing bird extinctions on Maui and are excited to continue moving forward with mosquito releases to save kiwikiu, ‘ākohekohe, and other native forest birds.”

Miranda Steed, a deputy attorney general in the Dept. of the Attorney General commented, “The court’s well-reasoned opinion is a win for Hawai‘i’s birds and the rule of law. As the state experiences the ramifications of climate change, such as increased transmission of avian malaria pushing native birds toward extinction, the DLNR/BLNR must be able to act.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the federal partners in the Birds, Not Mosquitos collaboration. Earl Campbell, USFWS Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office commented, “This decision is a significant step in ensuring the long-term survival of Hawaiian honeycreepers and the ecological and biocultural role these birds provide for the people of Hawai‘i."

As the IIT is being deployed on the slopes of Haleakalā, work continues to try and capture as many endangered birds as possible, bring them into conservation breeding centers, and keep them safe, until they can be returned to mosquito-free areas.

“Extinction is forever, but for our last remaining forest birds on Maui, it does not have to be inevitable,” said Maxx Phillips, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney. The Court has made clear that we will not sit back and watch our forests fall silent.”

# # #

CN: Judge sides with Hawaii to block challenge to mosquito release plan

PDF: Hawaii Unites v BLNR Summary Judgment Oahu

CB: Court Rules In Favor Of Hawaii In 'Mosquito Birth Control' Case

SA: Judge rejects attempt to stop mosquito release

RESOURCES

HD video – IIT TRO hearing (July 21, 2023)

Photographs – IIT TRO hearing (July 21, 2023)

(All images and video courtesy: DLNR)

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii