The Hawaiian hawk, or ‘io, is no longer on the federal list of endangered or threatened species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it had published a final rule to officially remove the hawk, which has been listed since 1967.

The feds say the hawk, once a symbol of royalty in Hawaiian legend, has maintained a stable population for more than 30 years and is no longer at risk of extinction. It is the only native hawk to Hawaii and only breeds on the Big Island.

The feds say the Hawaiian hawk, or ‘io, is no longer at risk of extinction. Courtesy: U.S. FWS

The Fish and Wildlife Service solicited public comments multiple times on removing the species, most recently in October 2018.

In its release Thursday, the Service says it has reviewed and fully considered all comments received during all the comment periods from the peer reviewers, state and federal agencies, and public on the proposed delisting rule.

“It is gratifying to say this species, listed more than 50 years ago, has a population secure enough to remove it from the list of threatened and endangered species” said Robyn Thorson, FWS regional director, in the release.

The release says the finalization of the delisting of the ʻio will not affect the protection provided to the species by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or Hawaii state law.

The rule takes effect in 30 days. More information is here.

The hawk’s population plummeted when humans arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, illegally shooting the birds, harassing them while nesting and destroying their native forests, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Hawaiian Islands used to be home to an eagle, a harrier and a hawk but only the hawk has survived colonization, FWS says.

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