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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Enviros Want 48 Hawaiian Species Protected

(CN) - An environmental group sued the Secretary of the Interior for failing to protect four dozen species on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The species in question include 45 rare plants, two birds, and a picture-wing fly found nowhere else on Earth. The 48 species represent and depend on six different ecosystems on the island.

WildEarth Guardians says Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was required to publish a final determination on the listing of the 48 species in the Federal Register by Oct. 21, 2009.

Salazar's duty to act was "mandatory and non-discretionary," and his failure to comply "is leading to the further decline of these species and their habitat," the federal complaint states.

The environmentalists claim many of the species have been considered for listing for years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and that there is no scientific dispute that all 48 species meet the definition of an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

In October 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing all 48 species as endangered, and 47 of the 48 habitats. Designation of critical habitat was withheld from one species because it is at risk of collection and vandalism and location information provided through the designation would have increased these risks, according to the complaint.

The publication of the proposed rule required the Interior Secretary to take further action within one year. While Salazar could have availed himself of a 6-month extension to make a decision, he failed to do so.

Since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973, more than 1,300 U.S. species have been listed as threatened or endangered.

Wildlife Guardians is represented by Colin Yost with Cruise & Yost in Honolulu.

It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief compelling the publication of the agency's decision on the species and habitat listing, and court costs.

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