ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
PROPOSES DOWNLISTING OF THE HAWAIIAN STILT (AE’O) FROM ENDANGERED TO THREATENED STATUS
On March 25, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to reclassify the Hawaiian Stilt (ae’o, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) from endangered to threatened. As a result of the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Hawai’i State protected species and conservation laws, support from private landowners, and effective management partnerships we believe the Hawaiian Stilt (ae’o) has recovered sufficiently so that it no longer meets the definition of endangered. The current statewide ae’o population estimate is between 1,500 and 2,000 individuals. The ae’o is comprised of one large population spread out across the islands of Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, and Hawai’i. The birds fly both intra- and interisland, but most successfully nests in protected and managed wetlands on Kauai, O’ahu, and Maui. Over the past 20 or more years, the ae’o has exhibited a stable population trend. Current population trends are expected to continue into the foreseeable future, as long as current management practices such as predator control and habitat enhancement are maintained.
Our analysis shows continued threats to the ae’o, from habitat modification by nonnative plants and animals, sea-level rise resulting from climate change, development and associated altered ground and surface water alteration, contaminants, avian botulism, and predation from introduced animals such as mongooses, dogs, cats, rats, birds, bullfrogs, and pigs. These threats remain significant and will continue to require additional, and likely novel, management practices to mitigate their impact to ae’o, particularly regarding sea-level rise. Existing regulatory mechanisms remain inadequate for full recovery.
In addition to the reclassification, we are also proposing a rule that would allow additional flexibility for our federal, state, and private conservation partners and land owners to manage ae’o on their property. This rule, called a 4(d) rule, would allow for incidental take associated with predator control and habitat management activities that are otherwise prohibited under Section 9 of the ESA. The rule would facilitate ae’o recovery by encouraging support for habitat management and predator control on federal, state, and private lands.
A complete copy of the proposal was published in the Federal Register (86 FR 15855) on March 25, 2021, and can be found at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands. A hard copy can be obtained by contacting the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office at (808) 792–9400 or email@example.com.
DATES: Comments may be submitted electronically to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or via U.S. mail 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. We would greatly appreciate receiving your comments on the proposed rule prior to or postmarked by May 24, 2021. Public hearing requests must be received in writing, write to: Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI, 96850, by May 24, 2021. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Abrams, Acting Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850; telephone 808-792-9400; facsimile 808-792-9581.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/pacific, or connect with us through any of these social media channels at www.facebook.com/USFWSPacific, www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/, www.tumblr.com/blog/usfwspacific, or www.twitter.com/USFWSPacific.