Law Street Media

Complaint Claims Not Enough Being Done to Protect Endangered Hawaiian Bird

A river runnning through a boreal forest.

Aerial View of Boreal Nature Forest in Summer, Quebec, Canada

The population of ‘i’iwi, a threatened bird species native to Hawaii, has reportedly “declined significantly in recent decades.” It is now only present on three islands when it used to be “one of the most abundant native forest birds in Hawaii,” according to a complaint filed in the District of Hawaii on Wednesday purporting that more should be done to protect the ‘i’iwi. 

The Center for Biological Diversity purported in its complaint that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Acting Secretary of the Interior, Scott De La Vega have failed to designate a critical habitat or develop a recovery plan as is required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). “These inexcusable delays deprive the threatened ‘i’iwi of vitally important protections in its most essential habit areas and at its greatest time of need,” the complaint alleged. 

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 68% of Hawaii’s endemic bird species have gone extinct since humans arrived at the islands because of habitat loss, introduction of predators, and disease. The plaintiff claimed that Hawaiian forest birds, “one of the most imperiled groups of birds in the word,” are currently in crisis. Out of 37 current bird species, 33 are considered endangered under the ESA and 9 are possibly extinct because there have been no reported sightings recently. 

A picture of an ‘i’iwi from the complaint.

The ‘i’iwi was reportedly listed as threatened under the ESA on September 20, 2017, the deadline given to the defendants after that date to designate a critical habitat can only be extended one year, which has already expired. 

“Time is of the essence in protecting this iconic forest bird,” the plaintiff claimed. The Center for Biological Diversity asked the court for declaratory relief and for the court to require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to designate a critical habitat and issue a recovery plan according to a court-determined timeline. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is represented by its own attorneys. 

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