Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 3:20 p.m., Monday, May 16, 2005

Hawai'i tops list of endangered species candidates

By Jaymes Song
Associated Press

Hawai'i again leads the nation with by far the greatest number of plant and animal species proposed for listing as endangered or threatened, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said today.

Hawai'i has nearly 40 percent of species listed as candidates for protective status. No new Hawai'i species were added to the candidate list or removed from it for the past year, leaving the state with 107 of the 286 native plant and animal species on the list.

Hawai'i already has more than 300 species protected under the Endangered Species Act, giving the state about a quarter of all endangered species in the United States.

Eighty-one of the Hawai'i candidate species are flowering plants. The list also includes snails, insects, crustaceans, ferns and birds including the Kauai Creeper.

A candidate species is one for which the agency has a "sufficient amount of information on biological vulnerability and threats to support a proposal to list as endangered or threatened," the Fish & Wildlife Service said.

Species in Hawai'i face several imminent threats such as habitat destruction, but invasive plants and wildlife present the biggest danger to native species, said Gina Shultz, the endangered species coordinator for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Honolulu.

"The species in Hawai'i evolved, many without any mammalian predators," she said. "Our only native terrestrial mammal is the Hawaiian Hoary Bat. A lot of water birds aren't used to predators such as cats or mongoose or other things."

Wildlife spokesman Ken Foote said another reason for Hawai'i's high number of endangered species is because of the islands' isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Species on the Mainland may be spread over a large area or several states.

"Because Hawai'i is so unique and geographically isolated that it has developed many endemic species, which means these species are found nowhere else in the world but Hawai'i," he said. "They're so highly specialized and sensitive that once invasive species come in, such as rats or pigs, it clearly offsets the whole natural balance."

In addition to the 107 species candidates in Hawai'i, there are an additional 12 on other Pacific islands.