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Federal funds released to fight avian malaria and save Hawaiʻi's endangered birds

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
Taken at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, San Diego Zoo Global

About $14 million to address avian malaria and save native birds has been released from the federal infrastructure bill signed by President Biden in November 2021.

The funding will help species including the ʻakikiki (Kauaʻi honeycreeper) and ‘akeke‘e (Hawaiian honeycreeper) on Kaua‘i, and the kiwikiu (Maui parrotbill) and ‘ākohekohe (crested honeycreeper) on Maui. Neither avian malaria nor the mosquitoes that carry it are native to Hawaiʻi.

Earl Campbell, a field supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the new funds will expedite current efforts to save Hawaiʻi’s endemic forest birds.

"We've had a lot of great work on Hawaiian bird conservation that has come up to this point. So there's a lot of really good work, that what we're thinking has been based on," he said. "The resources we're looking at potentially could be focused on these four species, but they will be able to help others."

The multiagency effort includes the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service.

"This is the Department of Interior as a whole, as a family, trying to figure out how best we can help this and move this situation up a notch and build upon the great work and the shoulders of people that have worked before us," he added.

Campbell said the public can comment on a proposal to use a new technique to control mosquito populations on Haleakalā where native forest birds live. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 23, 2023.

HPR's Manu Minute brings you rich sounds from Hawai'i's native forests and shorelines. Each week, we feature a different Hawaiʻi bird and its unique song, and talk about its environment and conservation.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 27, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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