Samoan Species Proposed for Endangered Species Protection

samoan_endangered09 October 2015 | Center for Biological Diversity News Release

HONOLULU— In accordance with a landmark agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed several animals in the U.S. territory of American Samoa for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The animals include two birds, two tropical snails and the only insect-eating bat in Polynesia.

“American Samoa is home to incredible wildlife found nowhere else on Earth,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center. “But many of its native animals and plants are threatened by habitat destruction and invasive species. Endangered Species Act protection gives these beleaguered island species real hope.”

The two birds proposed for protection include the friendly ground dove and the mao. The mao is a large, vocal, nectar-eating bird that lives in mature, high-elevation forests — habitat that has almost entirely disappeared on the Samoan archipelago due to logging and cyclone damage. The friendly ground dove also faces destruction of its tropical forest habitat and, like many ground-nesting birds in American Samoa, egg predation by nonnative rats.

The Pacific sheath-tailed bat once numbered as many as 11,000 in American Samoa, but a 2008 survey found none. The two snails proposed for protection — the sisi snail and the Tutuila tree snail — are both threatened by the nonnative, predatory rosy wolf snail, introduced to Tutuila Island in 1977. Despite the Tutuila tree snail’s prolific reproduction — adults are believed to live for five years and give birth about every 20 days — the population faces decline.

Several of the species have been waiting decades for protection; the Center petitioned for protection of four of the five in 2004. Today’s decision is part of a historic settlement agreement between the Center and the Service that expedites decisions on 757 species around the country and has so far resulted in endangered species protections for 165 species and proposed protection for another 71, including four of today’s five.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will now take public comment on the proposed listings and has 12 months to finalize a decision.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Contact: Sarah Uhlemann, (206) 327-2344, suhlemann@biologicaldiversity.org


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