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Hirono Announces Over $4 Million in Funding to Prevent Extinction of Hawaiian Forest Birds

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) announced that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is awarding over $4 million in funding to various programs and initiatives across Hawaii to prevent the imminent extinction of Hawaiian forest birds. The funding is made possible through the DOI’s Hawaiian Forest Bird Keystone Initiative, a partnership with the State of Hawaii, the Native Hawaiian community, and others to employ a multi-pronged and bio-cultural approach for native bird conservation and avian malaria control.

Hawaiian forest birds, such as the Hawaiian honeycreeper, are put at severe risk by the spread of avian malaria, a disease which is carried into their last remaining habitat and transmitted to birds by invasive mosquitoes. Warmer temperatures due to climate change have also allowed mosquitoes to reach higher elevations that were previously refuge for birds.

This funding supports continued planning and implementation of landscape-level mosquito control, translocation of birds to higher elevation islands, establishing captive populations of at-risk birds, developing tools to increase the scope of these extinction prevention measures, and ensuring that these actions are conducted in a culturally appropriate approach.

Senator Hirono has been a long-time advocate of protecting Hawaii’s native forest birds, previously sending a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) urging the agency to prioritize its efforts to protect critically endangered Hawaiian forest birds. In the letter, Senator Hirono and other lawmakers urged NPS to use funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed last year to continue efforts to protect native forest birds at Haleakala National Park on Maui. In May 2023, Senator Hirono also introduced the Extinction Prevention Act, bicameral legislation to provide much-needed funding for some of the country’s most imperiled yet vastly underfunded wildlife species, including threatened and endangered North American butterflies, various Pacific Island plants, freshwater mussels, and Southwest desert fish.