Dozens of Hawaii plant and animal species are moving closer to possible federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

It was a scramble, but federal officials have met a Friday deadline to act on 130 backlogged endangered species cases in Hawaii. Many of the applications have languished for three decades.

Hawaii’s plants and animals are part of 731 cases nationally that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to take action on this year as a result of a lawsuit brought by national environmental groups, WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Hawaii species include damselflies, three shrimp species, the Black-footed albatross, the band-rumped storm petrel and numerous types of plants.

Each species goes through multiple stages of review before they end up on the endangered species list or are dropped. The lawsuit was brought to jumpstart the processing of cases. Most of the Hawaii species have been approved as meeting endangered species qualifications, but still have more levels of scrutiny to go, although the status of the Black-footed albatross is expected to be announced next week.

As part of the settlement agreement, another 160 species in Hawaii will have to be acted upon next year.

Nationally, about 80 percent of the species subject to the deadline had been acted upon as of Monday, according to John Horning, executive director of WildEarth Guardians.

The prosecutors in the case will decide what action to take if the federal agency misses the deadline, but Horning said that he was happy with their progress.

“I think we would have a legal, ethical or public case to be made today that they didn’t do everything they said they would,” said Horning. “But the thrust of the matter is that they are making leaps and bounds of progress relative to where we were six months ago. Species were stuck in purgatory and just weren’t going anywhere.”

Horning said that there had been more progress during the past six months than there has been in six years.

Dozens of plants and animals are currently listed as endangered in Hawaii, including monk seals, green sea turtles and nene – the Hawaiia state bird. The designation makes it illegal to harm or kill them.


Below is a listing of endangered species cases that have been acted upon.


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