The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to decide within the next two years whether to list up to 58 Hawai’i species as endangered, the agency’s director told Congress this week.
Dale Hall, head of the agency, said decisions will be made on whether to protect a total of 92 species nationwide, more than half of which exist only in Hawai’i.
An environmental group which has sued the agency for its sluggish actions in the past hailed the announcement as “good progress.”
“Given how slowly they’ve moved in the past, this feels like a victory,” said Noah Greenwald, science director for the Center of Biological Diversity.
The announcement does not mean that all the Hawai’i species will receive endangered status and the protection that goes with it, Greenwald said.
Even so, it shows that the administration of President Bush is finally taking the issue seriously, he said.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service has not protected a single new U.S. species in 661 days,” he said. “Many of these species are unique to one place and in very real danger of extinction.”
Among the species which will be considered by the agency in the coming year is the ‘akepa, or Kaua’i creeper, which has rarely been seen in recent years and likely is on the verge of extinction.
Also on the list are two rare insects, the picture-wing fly (Drosophila attigua) and the blackline megalagrion damselfly (Megalagrion nigrohamatum nigrolineatum).
The other Hawai’i species on the list are plants, Greenwald said.