In August 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to delist the Hawaiian hawk (Buteo solitarius), also referred to as the io, from the federal list of endangered or threatened species. The proposed rule states that the proposed action is "based on a thorough review of the best available scientific data, which indicates that range-wide population estimates have been stable for at least 20 years, and the species has recovered and is not likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range." While the official comment periods on the proposed rule and the proposed post-delisting monitoring plan closed on August 4, 2009, the Service did not make a final determination on the proposed rule.
Last week, on February 12, 2014, the Service announced the reopening of the public comment period on the proposed rule to delist the Hawaiian hawk. In the announcement, the Service states that "[a]lthough new information shows negative habitat trends due to urbanization and nonnative plant species invasion, efforts at habitat restoration that benefit the Hawaiian hawk are achieving success," and that even in the face of potential habitat concerns "the Hawaiian hawk is resilient enough to maintain itself over time in a variety of habitat types."
The announcement states that comments submitted during the prior comment periods do not need to be resubmitted. However, comments on the new information presented in the announcement "must be received or postmarked no later than April 14, 2014."
The proposed rule acknowledges that if the Hawaiian hawk is delisted, thereby stripping away all protection provided by the Endangered Species Act, the hawk would still be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
For another take on the Service’s announcement and proposed action, see the following article by Carolyn Lucas-Zenk in the West Hawaii Today.