In disheartening update, 8 birds endemic to Hawaii officially declared extinct

The poouli was a Hawaii honeycreeper last seen in 2004.
The poouli was a Hawaii honeycreeper last seen in 2004.(DOFAW)
Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 4:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of research and monitoring, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is delisting 21 species from the Endangered Species Act because they are now believed to be extinct.

Of those 21 species, eight are birds that were endemic to Hawaii.

“Federal protection came too late to reverse these species’ decline, and it’s a wake-up call on the importance of conserving imperiled species before it’s too late,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said. “As we commemorate 50 years of the Endangered Species Act this year, we are reminded of the Act’s purpose to be a safety net that stops the journey toward extinction. The ultimate goal is to recover these species, so they no longer need the Act’s protection.”

For some of the birds, the last confirmed sighting took place many years ago. Many of them were listed as endangered in the 60s or 70s. The service acknowledges many were likely extinct decades ago, but are finally classifying them as extinct now as a result of “rigorous reviews of the best available science.”

The Hawaiian birds extinct are:

  • Kauai akialoa: Listed as endangered in 1967, last confirmed sighting 1960s
  • Kauai nukupuu: Listed as endangered in 1970, last confirmed sighting in 1899
  • Kauaʻi ʻōʻō: Listed as endangered 1967, last confirmed sighting in 1987
  • Large Kauai thrush: Listed as endangered 1970, last confirmed sighting in 1987
  • Maui ākepa: Listed as endangered 1970, last confirmed sighting in 1988
  • Maui nukupuʻu: Listed as endangered 1970, last confirmed sighting in 1996
  • Molokai creeper: Listed as endangered 1970, last confirmed sighting in 1963
  • Po`ouli: Listed as endangered 1975, last confirmed sighting in 2004

But there was hope for one Hawaiian herb species: Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis,

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is a Hawaiian perennial herb in the mint family that has no common name. It was delisted as extinct after new surveys found new, potentially suitable habitats for the plant to grow.

The updated extinct status of all 21 species comes as the Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old this year. Officials say the act has helped in protecting endangered species and has in fact saved 99% of the listed species from extinction. More than 100 animals and plants were delisted because of protections and recovery efforts.

The updated extinctions will be published in the Federal Register.

To see the other species included in the delisting due to extinction, click here.