Hawaii state bird status goes from endangered to threatened

HONOLULU (AP) — The federal government has changed the protection status of Hawaii’s state bird from endangered to threatened, officials said.

Federal officials said the nene has been brought back from the brink of extinction through a breeding program and habitat restoration, Hawaii Public Radio reported Monday.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt made the announcement Sunday at the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge in Ewa Beach.

The nene is native to the Hawaiian Islands. In the 1950s the number of nenes fell to about 30 birds in the wild, but long-term efforts restored the population to about 3,000 statewide, wildlife officials said.

Some wildlife advocates took issue with the new status for the nenes.

“The successful efforts to recover the nene demonstrate how effective the Endangered Species Act truly is,” Maxx Phillips, Hawaii director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Without this landmark law, wildlife in danger of disappearing forever, like the nene, would have little hope of recovery.”

The administration of President Donald Trump has protected 21 species under the Endangered Species Act, the lowest of any administration at this point in a presidential term, Phillips said.

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Information from: KHPR-FM, http://hawaiipublicradio.com