For Immediate Release, June 8, 2012
Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681
38 Hawaii Species Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection
Proposal Would Also Protect 271,000 Acres for Rare Hawaii Plants, Animals
HONOLULU— In response to a landmark settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect 35 plants and three tree snails on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui under the Endangered Species Act. The agency is also proposing to protect 271,062 acres (423 square miles) of critical habitat for these and 97 already listed species on Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Kahoolawe. Nearly half the newly designated habitat overlaps with critical habitat already designated for species protection.
“Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful and endangered species on Earth, and we’re elated that these rare plants and animals are getting the protection they need to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center.
The species are threatened primarily by habitat loss and by competition and predation from nonnative species such as feral pigs, goats, rats and invasive plants and insects.
“If we’re going to save Hawaii’s rarest plants and animals, we’ll need the Endangered Species Act to get it done. The Act has been 99 percent successful at preventing the extinction of the species under its care,” said Curry.
The animals proposed for protection are two species of Lanai tree snail and Newcomb’s tree snail. The snails are found only on wet cliffs where they live on specific host plants and eat fungus and algae.
The plants proposed for protection are a stunning variety of colorful geraniums, sunflowers, bellflowers, vines, shrubs and trees from coastal, lowland, subalpine and cliff environments. They include the hala pepe, popolo, kookoolau, awikiwiki and haha nui, among others. For some of the plant species, only a few individuals survive.
The Center first petitioned to protect 20 of the species in 2004. Today’s listing proposal is in accordance with a historic legal settlement between the Center and the Fish and Wildlife Service in July 2011, which will expedite protection decisions for 757 of the most threatened species around the country.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 350,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.