USFWS Re-Opens Comment Period on Listing of Five Species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reopening a 30-day comment period on a proposal to list five species of animals from American Samoa as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

To provide additional opportunities for public input, the Service will be holding an informational meeting and a public hearing in American Samoa.

The informational meeting and the public hearing will both be held on Thursday, January 21, at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium (Fale Laumei) in the main auditorium.

The informational meeting will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. and the public hearing from 3 to 5 p.m.

The informational meeting is an opportunity for the public to ask questions about the species and the listing process.

The public hearing is an opportunity for the public to provide either verbal or written testimony about the species and proposed listing.

No questions will be taken or answered during the public hearing process. People providing testimony at the public hearing must register onsite.

On October 13, 2015, the Service identified two land snails, two birds (the friendly ground-dove and the mao), and the Pacific sheath-tailed bat for federal protection, all of which are at risk of extinction because of habitat loss and degradation, predation by non-native species, and the small size of their remaining populations.

This is the first time terrestrial species from American Samoa are being considered for listing under the ESA. The mao, known only from the Samoan archipelago and sheath-tailed bat are likely extirpated from American Samoa, but still occur in low numbers in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

Critical habitat designations for these species will be proposed under a separate rule.

Mary Abrams, the Service’s field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office encourages the people of American Samoa to actively participate in the public comment period and the public hearing to help ensure their analysis is based on all of the relevant information available about these unique species and their threats.”

She added, “We are listening and want to learn what information people have to share with us.

“The Service looks forward to continuing to work with the local government, partners, and the people of American Samoa to conserve what makes these islands so special.”

The friendly ground dove, also known as the uaimeo (Gallicolumba stairi), occurs on the· islands of Ofu and Olosega and in several other island groups in Polynesia.

The two land snails Eua zebrina and Ostodes strigatus are endemic to American Samoa, with· Eua zebrina found only on Tutuila and Ofu, and Ostodes strigatus found only on the western half of Tutuila.

The Pacific sheath-tailed bat, also known as the peapea vai (Emballonura semicaudata· semicaudata), is likely extirpated from American Samoa, but is known to occur in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu in low numbers.

The ma’o (Gymnomyza samoensis), is endemic to the Samoan Archipelago and is now restricted· to the islands of Upolu and Savaii in Samoa.

The comment period is open through February 4, 2016.

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