The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit this week against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after the agency listed nearly 50 Hawaiian plant and animal species as endangered but then never designated the habitat needed to help those species recover.

The national nonprofit group, which includes a Hawaii branch, had announced in May that it would sue the agency if it failed to correct its own “violations” of the Endangered Species Act within 60 days.

“The Service’s failure to timely designate critical habitat after listing these species as endangered violates its mandatory duty,” the lawsuit states. It was filed Thursday in federal court. “This unlawful delay deprives these imperiled species of vitally important protections in their most essential habitat areas.”

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Orangeblack Hawaiian damselflies are among the 49 local endangered species that lack the proper federally designated critical habitat to help them recover, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The nonprofit group has announced its intent to sue over the matter. DLNR

The 49 affected species, which include the band-rumped storm-petrel, the yellow-faced bee and Maui reedgrass, were listed in 2016, according to a letter from Maxx Phillips, the center’s Hawaii director and staff attorney, to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

Hawaii is home to hundreds of varieties of threatened plants and animals and often called the endangered species capital of the world. Nine local species were declared extinct in 2021.

“After six years of dragging its feet, it’s clear the Fish and Wildlife Service had no intention of protecting habitat for these severely endangered species, just like it’s failed to do for so many others,” Phillips said in an emailed statement Thursday. “Hawai‘i remains the extinction capital of the world. If the Service doesn’t act, and act quickly, these 49 irreplaceable species could disappear forever.”

Read a copy of the Center for Biological Diversity’s complaint here:

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