DLNR Press Release: RACE TO SAVE HAWAIIAN HONEYCREEPERS BOOSTED BY $14 MILLION IN FEDERAL INFRASTRUCTURE AID
Posted on May 16, 2022 in Latest news from the department, Press room
(HONOLULU) – Significant federal dollars are being directed to Hawai’i to help address the extinction crisis facing at least four native Hawaiian bird species.
An unprecedented $14 million for Hawaiian ecosystem restoration is included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, described as a major investment in the conservation and stewardship of America’s public lands.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), which will administer the $1.4 billion Ecosystem Restoration and Resilience Act, this amount…”is an important down payment in protecting our natural heritage. commmon”. The DOI works with states, tribes and local communities to invest millions of dollars annually to restore habitat connectivity for aquatic species across the country and advance habitat restoration, species control invasive species, conservation of endangered and listed species, and benefits to several important ecosystems.
“Several species of native Hawaiian forest birds are on the verge of extinction, possibly within the next two years. This federal funding could not come at a better time and will add significantly to the projects and efforts already underway to try to save species, like ‘akikiki and kiwikiu, from disappearing forever,” Governor David Ige said.
The DOI funding announcement was made on Friday. In April, federal and state conservation officials revealed the results of a biocultural study that describes the near-future fate of extinction facing four species of Hawaiian creeper.
The report says that without intervention, the birds face a bleak outlook. There are far fewer of these birds compared to the last two decades, and even the last few years. Their available range has been greatly reduced as species move higher into the mountains to escape mosquitoes.
Avian malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, decimates birds. The disease and the mosquitoes that carry it are not native to Hawaii. Already a large group of government agencies and conservation organizations have banded together in the Birds, not mosquitoes working group to develop a program to introduce incompatible male mosquitoes into the habitats of ‘akikiki and ‘akeke’e in Kaua’i, and kiwikiu and ‘ākohekohe in Maui, to suppress wild mosquito populations and engage with local communities on this post.
Dr. Chris Farmer is the American Bird Conservancy’s Hawai`i Program Director and helps facilitate the Birds, not mosquitoes initiative. “We have a huge group of scientists, conservationists, land managers and other non-profit, private and government organizations engaged in a collaborative process to break the cycle of avian disease and save these birds. as quickly as possible. We can only do this by controlling non-native mosquitoes where our vines have their last mountain refuges,” Farmer said.
DLNR is receiving $6.5 million, through the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), for the development of novel mosquito management using non-compatible mosquitoes at the landscape scale and for the development of additional captive propagation facilities at the San Diego Zoo Maui Bird Conservation Center of the Wildlife Alliance.
Other funded initiatives:
- $1 million – USFWS Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office to support inter-office efforts to prevent the extinction of endemic species: new techniques for eradicating invasive mosquitoes
- $592,000 – U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center to support cross-office efforts to prevent endemic species extinction: vector management for invasive mosquitoes
- $6 million – National Park Service to establish an inter-agency field deployment team and develop tools to suppress non-native mosquito populations at Haleakalā National Park
Dr. Lainie Berry, Wildlife Program Manager for DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) noted, “With approximately 45 ‘akikiki remaining in the wild on Kaua’i and 135 kiwikiu left at he wilderness on Maui, it’s easy to see that we have a daunting and urgent job ahead of us. This huge level of additional federal dollars will go a long way to supplementing and augmenting the serious efforts already in place to save these species; as well as the ‘akeke’e and ʻākohekohe, whose number of wild populations is slightly higher.
Ulalia Woodside, director of Hawaii and Palmyra for The Nature Conservancy, a key partner in the Birds, not mosquitoes effort, added “With climate change moving mosquitoes to higher and higher altitudes, the loss of more native species is imminent without clear action. The millions in additional funds will support the development and implementation of the tools needed to give these endemic Hawaiian birds a fighting chance.
“Faced with such bleak prospects for our beloved treecreeper species, there are certainly no guarantees,” commented DLNR chair Suzanne Case. “However, federal support for infrastructure aimed at preventing the extinction of these forest birds is a clear demonstration that the federal government and lawmakers recognize the urgency with which we must use all available tools now and in the future. , to ensure the natural protection and cultural resilience of our forest birds.
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(All images/videos courtesy of DLNR)
HD video – ‘Akikiki search and rescue, Kaua’i (December 2, 2021):
HD video – ‘Akikiki in the wild:
HD Video – Kiwikiu Translocation, Hanawi Nature Preserve, Maui (October 17-19, 2019):
HD Video – Kiwikiu Translocation Project:
Photographs – ‘Akikiki search and rescue, Kaua’i (December 2, 2021):
Photographs – ‘Akikiki by various photographers (credits noted):
Photographs – Kiwikiu Translocation, Hanawī Nature Area Reserve, Maui (October 17-19, 2019):
Photographs – Kiwikiu, Maui Bird Conservation Center (February 25, 2019):
Learn more about the Birds not mosquitoes initiative:
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Department of Lands and Natural Resources