POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2011
The scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper known as the iiwi and dozens of other Hawaii species would be considered for designation as endangered species in the next several years, under an agreement finalized Tuesday between the federal government and a conservation group.
The 70 Hawaii species named make up 9 percent of the nationwide total of 757 species covered by the agreement, announced by the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Tucson, Ariz., nonprofit reached the agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that requires the agency to make decisions by 2018 whether to add hundreds of imperiled animals and plants to the federal endangered species list.
"Once a species is put onto the federal endangered list, there is a lot more money to do research, to purchase habitats, to generally receive more attention, and without that species often go extinct," Kieran Suckling, executive director of the center, said in an interview.
Hawaii species covered by the agreement include the iiwi, the black-footed albatross, the Wekiu bug, the crimson Hawaiian damselfly and the Lanai tree snail.
The iiwi is on the Audubon Society watch list and is known for its high susceptibility to avian malaria.
Suckling said climate change has threatened Hawaii's forest birds. Increased temperatures result in a growth of mosquito populations that spread avian malaria.
The agreement was submitted to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., for approval.
Species covered by the agreement are in all 50 states and several Pacific island territories. The states with the most species named in the agreement are Alabama (149), Georgia (121) and Florida (115). Hawaii is fourth.