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Feds aim to expand Hakalau forest wildlife refuge

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HILO » The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pursuing plans that could almost double the size of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on Hawaii island.

The refuge currently covers nearly 34,000 acres of native forest and grassland on Mauna Kea’s windward slope and over 5,000 acres of forest on Mauna Loa’s leeward slope.

The agency said Tuesday it will work landowners willing to sell it more land depending on whether it has funding.

The agency is looking at five parcels for possible inclusion in the refuge, including 10,000 acres of McCandless Ranch lots in Honokua and Kahuku. Altogether the refuge could grow by nearly 30,000 acres.

The refuge is currently home to 14 native bird species, including eight that are endangered like the Hawaii akepa.

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