Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Regal 'Io, or Hawaiian hawk, to lose endangered species protection

The regal Hawaiian hawk, which has been on the federal endangered species list for 41 years, would be removed from the list under a plan announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The service said “the population is secure and no longer requires federal protection.” It is seeking public comment on its proposal.

(Image: Jack Jeffrey photo of a Hawaiian hawk on a snag. Credit: Fish and Wildlife Service.)

The hawk is associated with Hawaiian royalty, and 'Iolani or Royal Hawk, was a nickname of kings Kamehameha II and IV. It is also the name of the royal palace in Honolulu.

Fossil evidence shows that the birds were once found on several islands, but now they are only found on the island of Hawai'i.

“The Hawaiian hawk, or ‘io, has shown great resiliency in the face of a changing landscape resulting in this proposed delisting,” said Patrick Leonard, field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.

The service believes there are now about 3,000 hawks on the Big Island, and that the population has been stable for two decades. The raptors forage actively in forest and pasture, and in both non-native and native habitats.

Hawks had earlier been proposed to be downlisted from endangered to threatened status, but the new proposal recommends all federal Endangered Species Act protections be removed. It would still be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits killing, selling or harming migratory birds or their nests or eggs.

“The Hawaiian hawk is not currently threatened by overutilization, disease, predation, contaminants, lack of adequate regulatory mechanisms, or other factors, and therefore no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species throughout its range,” the service said in its announcement.

The birds would be monitored for at least five years after the delisting to ensure that the population remains healthy after the Endangered Species Act protection is removed.

More information on the hawk is available at

The service will accept public comments on the delisting for two months. Here are details:

“The Service will consider comments and materials from all interested parties received by October 6, 2008. Comments and materials concerning this proposed delisting should be sent to: Federal eRulemaking Portal: Comments and materials may also be mailed or hand-delivered to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AU96; Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.”

For more information see the service website at, or for copies call the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Honolulu at 808 792-9400.

© 2008 Jan TenBruggencate


Anonymous said...

i see fewer i'o at my house in holualoa than i did several years back. with all the development and swift reduction of forest lands, i question the wisdom of this delisting at this time.

i have read elsewhere that the delisting is being pursued by the military, so they can use areas they currently cannot bc of the hawk's presence.

Anonymous said...

though there has been a number of hawaiian hawks that consider the Endangered Species Act to be removed. i think it should be strongly recommended to continue the act. It wouldnt hurt and also people will continue to lower the hawaiian hawks population.
the more help the more it would help the hawaiian hawks population and less disturbance to everything around where it helps.