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FWS proposes downlisting Hawaiian stilt from endangered to threatened

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to downlist the ae‘o, or Hawaiian stilt, from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The federal agency is seeking public comment on the proposed change in status for the ae‘o from through May 24.

The Endangered Species Act defines endangered as a species that is currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range and threatened as likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. The service said the proposed downlisting of the ae‘o is an example of the power of conservation partnerships between federal, state and private stakeholders under the ESA.

“The Service is proud of our record of partnering with diverse stakeholders to conserve and recover imperiled species,” said Regional Director Robyn Thorson. “We look forward to continuing the collaborations that have led to the improved status of the ae‘o and the countless other species that share its habitat.”

The ae‘o is a wading bird that lives on all the main Hawaiian Islands, except Kaho‘olawe. It was originally listed as endangered in 1970 due to destruction and alteration of habitat, hunting, introduced predatory animals and non-native birds and disease. Over the past three decades, diverse stakeholders have come together to manage the Hawaiian wetlands in ways compatible with the needs of the ae‘o and in addressing other threats. These efforts include the state working with national wildlife refuges to manage wetlands on behalf of the stilt and other species that share its habitat.

“State managed wetlands and national wildlife refuges have been essential for the recovery of the ae‘o. The State of Hawaii and other conservation partners have been key in helping the ae‘oo move toward recovery, said Acting Service Field Supervisor Mary Abrams. “Protected wetlands and continued invasive predator control are essential for protecting the bird into the future.”

There are remaining challenges to recovery of the ae‘o, including non-native animal predation (e.g., mongooses, cats and rats), habitat loss, development, type C botulism and the effects of climate change. Survey data and a recent population viability analysis indicate that populations have been stable to increasing for several decades in the eight islands where it exists.

These trends are expected to continue into the foreseeable future, as long as conservation efforts that include predator control and management of vegetation and water levels, continue.

Comments may be submitted electronically to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or via U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R1–ES–2018–06571, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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