U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced Sunday in a ceremony at Honouliuli that the nene, Hawaii’s state bird, has been “downlisted” from an endangered species to a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
There are currently about 2,800 nene birds, up from a low of 30 birds in the wild in 1960, said Dr. Rachel S. Sprague, president of the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, in an article published by the National Parks Traveler, a nonprofit media organization.
Bernhardt said, “This is a story about what the Endangered Species Act is supposed to be about, and the great thing here is we are moving this bird, really in my opinion, from the emergency ward or the intensive care unit where it is still in the hospital. We still need to be protective of it and thoughtful of it, but we are doing it in a way that now, as we downlist it to a threatened species, we insure that there is some flexibilities built in for the neighbors. The act provides us significant flexibility to insure we utilize common-sense approaches.”
Also speaking at the event were Robert Masuda, first deputy of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Mary Abrams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said in a statement, “The recovery of the nene shows how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. With a science-based recovery plan and a strong partnership between the state and federal governments, the species has gradually rebounded. We have a long way to go before the nene is completely recovered, and it will require continued protections, but this is an important milestone. I thank the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the many environmental organizations and volunteers who have worked to save our iconic state bird.”