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KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« FWS designates critical habitat for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep | Main| FWS proposes revisions to format of ESA listing tables »

FWS proposes delisting of the Hawaiian hawk

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73 Fed. Reg. 45680 (Wednesday, August 6, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Withdrawal of Proposed Reclassification of the Hawaiian Hawk or Io (Buteo solitarius) From Endangered to Threatened; Proposed Rule To Remove the Hawaiian Hawk From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife)

HawaiianHawkFWS.gif
The Hawaiian hawk (shown in photo in its light coloration phase) occurs over much of the island of Hawaii, from approximately 1,000 to 8,530 feet (ft) (300 to 2,600 meters (m)) above sealevel, and occupies a variety of habitat types.  According to FWS, it is proposing to delist the species because "Due to implementation of recovery actions and other conservation efforts, we now believe that the Hawaiian hawk is broadly distributed throughout the island of Hawaii, has been stable in number for at least 20 years, nests and forages successfully in both native and altered habitats, and has large areas of habitat in protected status."

SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), withdraw our 1993 proposed reclassification of the Hawaiian hawk or io (Buteo solitarius) from endangered to threatened, and propose to remove the Hawaiian hawk from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List). These actions are based on a thorough review of the best available scientific data, which indicates that range-wide population estimates have been stable for at least 20 years, and the species has recovered and is not likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The proposed rule, if made final, would remove the Hawaiian hawk from the List, thereby removing all protections provided by the Act. DATES:  Comments on the proposed delisting rule must be received by October 6, 2008.

NOTEWORTHY EXCERPT RE: SURVEYS: Recently, we funded an islandwide survey that was completed in the summer of 2007. The researchers used updated vegetation maps and methods to calculate population and density estimates for the 1998–1999 survey data and the 2007 survey data. Using consistent maps and methods they were then able to compare population size and density over time to see if there had been significant changes. They found that, according to Klavitter’s data, the Hawaiian hawk population numbered 3,239 (95% CI = 2,610 to 3,868) in 1998, more than double Klavitter’s original estimate of 1,457 (± 176.3 birds) (Klavitter 2000, pp. 38, 96; Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170). In 2007, they estimated the population to number 3,085 hawks...

ADDITIONAL EXCERPTS: The FWS 5-factor evaluation of the species can be summarized by the following:

(A) The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range... "Although some habitat loss is expected in the
future, this loss is likely to be a small percentage of the hawk’s habitat and is likely to be patchily distributed such that hawks are expected to continue to be widely distributed on Hawaii."

(B) Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes... "With increased community outreach regarding the hawk’s status on the island of Hawaii, there no longer appears to be a substantive threat to the species from shooting (Mello 2007) and there is no reason to suspect that this threat is likely to increase in the future."

(C) Disease or Predation... "Neither disease nor predation is currently known to substantively affect the Hawaiian hawk population."

(D) The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms... "A variety of regulatory mechanisms, managed by State and Federal resource agencies, are in place to protect the Hawaiian hawk and the habitats upon which it depends." FWS cited the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), FIFRA, and CITES, as well as Hawaiian law HRS § 195–1, which states that ‘‘[a]ll indigenous species of aquatic life,wildlife, and land plants are integral parts of Hawaii’s native ecosystems and comprise the living heritage of Hawaii, for they represent a natural resource of scientific, cultural, educational, environmental, and economic value to future generations of Hawaii’s people’’ and that ‘‘it is necessary that the State take positive actions to enhance their prospects for survival.’’

(E) Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence... "The Hawaiian hawk, although an island endemic, appears to be resilient to habitat changes and catastrophes. Therefore, we do not believe that other natural or manmade factors currently endanger the Hawaiian hawk; nor are they likely to cause the endangerment or extinction of the Hawaiian hawk in the foreseeable future."

KEITHINKING: The FWS analysis appears to present two interesting questions:
(1) can observed stability warrant delisting, and if so,
(2) was the species listing warranted in the first place?