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Governor designates official state snails for each island

HONOLULU — Gov. Josh Green has signed legislation designating an official state kahuli, or snail, for each of the main Hawaiian Islands and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

In a ceremony Friday at Washington Place, Green signed into law House Bill 1899, which recognizes nine native snail species as state snails.

“Land snails are among the most threatened creatures in the world, with more recorded extinctions than birds and mammals combined,” said Green in a statement. “Last year, I proclaimed the ‘Year of the Kahuli’ to help bring attention to the plight of our native snails, which in Hawaiian culture have significant roles in mele, hula and oli. They are symbols of romance and omens. That we have so many youth who fought hard for this legislation gives me great hope for Hawai‘i’s future.”

The Bishop Museum organized a statewide snail voting campaign to engage community members and students from across the state to recommend which snail species should be designated official state snails for each island.

“The museum and our partners are deeply grateful to see the fruition of years of work that went into making this bill a reality,” said Ken Hayes, malacologist at the Bishop Museum.

“Hopefully, this and other actions like it will inspire another generation to commit to the aloha ‘aina that is so critical for a sustainable future in Hawai‘i. Our kahuli and all species that call Hawai‘i home deserve recognition, respect, and protection.”

“Kahuli are true jewels of nature and culture,” said David Sischo, who leads the Snail Extinction Prevention Program at the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

“Having these species officially designated as symbols of Hawai‘i means so much. Knowing that their importance is now enshrined in law brings a new level of focus and pride to the collective work to prevent extinctions of the island’s irreplaceable animals and plants.”

Rather than designating a single species as the Official State Snail, multiple species, that are emblematic of the distinctive flora and fauna of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and each island in Hawaii, received the distinction.

Hawai‘i Island – Hini hini kua mauna (Succinea konaensis)

Maui – Pupu kua mauna (Lyropupa striatula)

Kaho‘olawe – Pupu kua mauna (Pleuropoma laciniosa kahoolawensis)

Lanai – Pupu kuahiwi (Auriculella lanaiensis)

Molokai – Pupu kuahiwi (Laminella venusta)

O‘ahu – Kahuli (Kaala subrutila)

Kaua‘i – Erinna newcombi

Ni‘ihau – Kahelelani‘ila‘ula (Collonista verruca)

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands – Naka kua mauna (Endodonta christenseni)

Several schools testified about the bill through a civics program led by the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species.

Yvonne Chan, a teacher at ‘Iolani School, said, “Our students learned so much from being a part of the civic process. They loved learning about the cultural and biological importance of Hawai‘i’s snails. Being able to advocate for what they value and now seeing it pass, was such an amazing experience. It empowers them to raise their voice for what they believe in, join in collective action, and understand our kuleana and responsibility to our natural resources and environment.”
Source: The Garden Island

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