(BIVN) – The nēnē, the beloved Hawaiʻi state bird, has officially been downlisted from “endangered” to “threatened”, under the Endangered Species Act.
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt, joined state officials on Oʻahu on Sunday to make the announcement.
“You have a tremendously inspiring story,” Sec. Bernhardt told state officials. “This is a story about what the Endangered Species Act is supposed to be about, and the great thing here is we’re moving this bird – really, in my opinion – from the emergency ward or the intensive care unit. It’s still in the hospital. It still needs [us] to be protective of it and thoughtful of it. But we’re doing it in a way that, now ,as we as we downlist it to a threatened species, we ensure that there’s some flexibilities built in for the neighbors and folks that are gonna have some more experiences with these birds as their population grows.”
Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the downlisting, “based on a thorough review of the best available scientific data, which indicate that the species’ status has improved such that it is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” as stated in the Federal Registrar.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement on the downlisting:
“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 Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the many environmental organizations and volunteers who have worked to save our iconic state bird.”
“As we go forward, we need to remember,” said Robert Masuda, the First Deputy of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, “that this kind of success, this kind of beauty, this kind of blessing, is part of what we’re striving for with all of the other endangered species.”