The U.S. Army is seeking public comment on a proposed plan to expand a program to save an endangered native bird species.
The Oʻahu ‘elepaio is a native flycatcher that is no larger than 5 inches and can fit in the palm of a person’s hand. The ʻelepaio is only found on three Hawaiian Islands. This rare small bird has a significant role in ancient Hawaiian culture, as a bird that would help canoe makers judge which trees were best.
Due to low reproductive success and predation by rats, the ‘elepaio’s population has been dwindling over the years. A number of Oʻahu’s ʻelepaio population lives in the mountains above Schofield Barracks’s training range.
Since the 1990's, the Army has been keeping track of nesting pairs of ʻelepaio and have been doing its best to protect the species. By setting up traps and placing rodenticide in specific areas to lower the threat of rats to the birds.
Today, the Army is proposing to expand the program to manage a wider area and improve its protection efforts. The plan calls for dropping more rodenticide bait from helicopters across its management area. Officials have conducted an environmental assessment on this proposal and are seeking public comment.
Paul Smith is a Natural Resources Biologist with the U.S. Army-Hawaiʻi.
Smith says the project will not only benefit the ʻelepaio, but also other native animals and plants living in the management area above Schofield.
You can review the supplemental environmental assessment online at https://go.usa.gov/xREAc
Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: USAG-HI DPW Environmental Division, 947 Wright Ave., Wheeler Army Airfield, Schofield Barracks, HI 96857.
The public comment period ends on September 7th.