Aeʻo

The US American Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to delete the Aeʻo (Hawaiian Stilt) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agency is asking for a public comment on the proposed change by May 24th.

“The service prides itself on our many years of working with various stakeholders to conserve and save endangered species,” said Regional Director Robyn Thorson. “We look forward to continuing the collaboration that has improved the status of the ae’o and the myriad of other species that share its habitat.”

The aeʻo is a wader found on all major Hawaiian islands except Kahoʻolawe. It is considered a subspecies of North America’s black-necked wagtail. Hawaii’s birds are distinguished by their more black face and neck, as well as a longer beak, tarsus, and tail.

The Aeʻo was originally classified as endangered in 1970 due to habitat destruction and alteration, hunting, the introduction of predators, as well as alien birds and disease. Over the past three decades, various stakeholders have come together to manage Hawaiian wetlands in ways that are compatible with the needs of the Ae’o and address threats to the species.

“State-managed wetlands and national game reserves have been essential to restoring the Ae’o. The state of Hawaii and other conservation partners have been instrumental in keeping the Aeʻo on its way to recovery, said Mary Abrams, field supervisor for the Acting Service. “Protected wetlands and continued invasive predator control are essential to protecting the bird in the future.”

Remaining challenges to Aeʻo restoration include alien predators (e.g., mongoose, cats, and rats), habitat loss, development, type C botulism, and the effects of climate change. However, survey data and a recent population viability analysis show that the populations on the eight islands on which they exist have been stable for several decades and have stopped increasing. These trends are expected to continue for the foreseeable future as long as conservation efforts continue. These practices include predator control, vegetation management, and water levels.

The proposed downgrade includes a proposed 4 (d) rule that will facilitate the conservation and management of Aeʻo where they currently occur and may occur in the future through increased flexibility by lifting the federal ban under certain conditions. This flexibility is aimed at encouraging support for habitat management and providing a way for federal and non-federal agencies to reduce human-animal conflict.

Comments on the proposed rule must be received or postmarked by May 24th and can be sent electronically to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov or by US mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS– R1 – ES – 2018–06571, American Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

All comments and materials received will become part of the public record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information in your comments, you should be aware that all of your comment – including your personally identifiable information – can be made publicly available at any time.

Thank you United States Fish and Wildlife Service for providing this news.

A hotspot for Ae’o: Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge in Kihei

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