On May 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) listing 35 plants and three tree snails found on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Kahoolawe as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The plant species include a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees from coastal, lowland, subalpine, and cliff environments. The animal species include two Lanai tree snails (Partulina semicarinata and Partulina variabilis) and the Newcomb’s tree snail (Newcombia cumingi). The Service proposed listing the species in July 2012.
According to the Service, the species are threatened primarily due to habitat loss and by competition and predation from nonnative species, including feral pigs, goats, rats, and axis deer, and invasive plants and insects. The species are also threatened by global climate change and extreme weather events, including hurricanes, landslides, rockfalls, and flooding.
The proposed listing is in accordance with a 2011 settlement agreement with environmental groups, which requires the Service to expedite ESA protection decisions for 757 species. As we reported here, these types of settlements have recently received negative attention, prompting Congress to consider legislation that would require local stakeholders to approve such settlements in the future.