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Hirono backs effort to protect imperiled wildlife species

LIHU‘E — U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono reintroduced legislation on Thursday aimed at protecting the most threatened wildlife species in Hawai‘i and throughout the country.

The Extinction Prevention Act of 2023, co-introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut in the Senate and Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona in the House, would authorize $5 million in funding annually for some of the most imperiled wildlife species in the United States.

The funding would be used for on-the-ground conservation projects that help the “less charismatic species” that are “chronically underfunded,” according to the bill’s summary. Those species include threatened and endangered North American butterflies, Pacific Island plants, freshwater mussels and Southwest desert fish.

The bill points out that there are nearly 400 endangered and threatened plant species in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands, which represents about 22 percent of all listed species. Additionally, more than 200 plant species in Hawai‘i have fewer than 50 wild individuals remaining.

“In Hawai‘i, native plants are crucial to the islands’ history, culture, and environment, which is why our communities prioritize the preservation of our unique biodiversity,” said Hirono, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in a statement Thursday.

“I’m glad to join my colleagues in reintroducing this legislation to invest in the conservation of some of our nation’s most vulnerable species. It is important that we protect endangered species so they can continue serving important ecological roles for years to come.”

More specifically, the funding would go toward conservation projects, including protecting and managing ecosystems, researching and managing populations, and community outreach and education.

The bill has been endorsed by the Endangered Species Coalition, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Columbus Zoo &Aquarium Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center, according to Hirono.

The bill was introduced ahead of Endangered Species Day on May 19, an annual holiday celebrated on the third Friday in May to raise awareness of threatened and endangered species around the world.


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached at 808-651-0638 or
Source: The Garden Island

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