[Federal Register: December 22, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 245)]
[Page 71128-71129]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the 'Alala (Corvus hawaiiensis)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability for review and comment.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (``we'') announces the 
availability of a draft revised recovery plan for the 'Alala, or 
Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis) for public review. This endemic 
Hawaiian bird, a member of the family Corvidae, is now believed to be 
extinct in the wild and survives only in captivity. The 'Alala was 
listed as an endangered species in 1967 (32 FR 4001). The original 
recovery plan for the 'Alala was published in 1982.

DATES: Comments on the draft revised recovery plan must be received on 
or before February 20, 2004 to receive our consideration.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft revised recovery plan are available for 
inspection, but appointment, during normal business hours at the 
following locations: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands 
Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850 (telephone 808-792-9400) and Hawaii State 
Library, 478 S. King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Requests for 
copies of the draft revised recovery plan and written comments and 
materials regarding this plan should be addressed to the Field 
Supervisor, Ecological Services, at the above Honolulu address. An 
electronic copy of the draft revised recovery plan is also available 
at: http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans.

Biologist, at the above Honolulu address.



    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals and plants is a 
primary goal of our endangered species program and the Endangered 
Species Act (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Recovery means improvement 
of the status of listed species to the point at which listing is no 
longer appropriate under the criteria set out in section 4(a)(1) of the 
Act. Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for the 
conservation of the species, establish criteria for downlisting or 
delisting listed species, and estimate time and cost for implementing 
the measures needed for recovery.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not pronounce the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act requires that public notice 
and an opportunity for public review and comment be provided during 
recovery plan development. We will consider all information presented 
during the public comment period prior to approval of each new or 
revised recovery plan. Comments may result in changes to the plan. 
Comments regarding recovery plan implementation will be forwarded to 
appropriate Federal or other entities so that they can take these 
comments into account during the course of implementing recovery 
actions. Individual responses to comments will not be provided.
    The Hawaiian Crow, or 'Alala, is an omnivorous, forest-dwelling 
bird endemic to dry and mesic forests on the island of Hawaii. Although 
'Alala were still abundant in the 1890's, their numbers decreased 
sharply throughout

[[Page 71129]]

the twentieth century despite legal protection conferred by the 
Territory of Hawaii in 1931, the Act in 1973, and the State of Hawaii 
Endangered Species Act in 1982. Progressive range reduction and 
population fragmentation have characterized the decline. By 1987, the 
wild 'Alala population was reduced to a single bird in north Kona, and 
an unknown number in central Kona, on the west slope of Mauna Loa 
volcano, Hawaii. The last reproduction of birds in the wild was in 
1996, and the wild population declined from 12 birds in 1992 to 2 birds 
(possibly 3) in 2002, and apparent extinction in the wild in 2003.
    Today, the 'Allala is believed to survive only in captivity. Small 
population size and inbreeding are the primary threats to the species 
at present, fertility and hatching success in captivity are currently 
low, and the incidence of congenital abnormalities is increasing.
    Many factors contributed to the decline of 'Allala in the wild. 
Destruction of most of the lowland forests restricted the bird's 
ability to follow seasonal fruiting up and down the mountains. The 
upland forests have been thinned and fragmented, and many fruiting 
plants lost, due to logging, ranching, and the effects of grazing by 
feral pigs, cattle, and sheep. Mongooses, cats, and rats prey on 
'Allala eggs and fledglings. Diseases carried by introduced mosquitoes 
may have cause the mortality of many 'Allala, as they did other forest 
birds. The role of 'Io in this decline, however, is unknown, despite 
their known effect on released birds. However, 'Io densities are 
higher, and vulnerability of 'Allala may be greater, in areas where 
ungulate grazing has reduced understory cover.
    The overall objective of this plan is to provide a framework for 
the recovery of the 'Allala so that its protection under the Act is no 
longer necessary. Recovery is contingent upon protecting and managing 
suitable habitat for reintroduction of 'Allala. Recovery actions 
include measures to protect habitat where the taxa occurred and habitat 
where the species is not known to have occurred but which may be 
suitable, restoration of degraded habitat, removal of feral ungulates 
from habitat areas, predator control, captive propagation and 
reintroduction, development of strategies to reduce mortality of 
reintroduced 'Allala by 'Io predation, and the development of means to 
address threats of avian disease. Key to recovery will be propagation 
of 'Allala in captivity; removal of feral ungulates that degrade forest 
habitat, spread introduced nonnative plant species, and create breeding 
sites for disease-carrying mosquitoes; control of introduced rodents; 
removal of feral cats that carry toxoplasmosis; and control of invasive 
plant species. Habitat management and restoration will increase foods 
available to released 'Allala and provide better cover for escape in 
areas with 'Io.
    Significant features of the 'Allala's life history, behavior, 
ecological interactions, and habitat needs remain unknown. These 
unknowns, combined with the pressing need to successfully maintain and 
augment the last remaining population of the species in captivity, led 
us to develop a draft revised recovery plan that focuses primarily on 
actions to conserve the 'Allala in the short-term while working within 
the framework of a broader long-term recovery strategy. This draft 
revised recovery plan is therefore presented in three sections: (1) An 
Introduction and Overview provides information on the biology of the 
species; (2) a Strategic Plan outlines the overall long-term goals and 
broad strategies which we anticipate shall remain effective throughout 
the recovery process for this species; and (3) a 5-year Implementation 
Plan which sets short-term goals for recovery efforts and research 
essential to conservation of the species. It is anticipated that new 
Implementation Plans will be prepared and published as addenda to the 
revised recovery plan every 3 to 5 years as we gain further knowledge 
of the 'Allala and are better able to determine the parameters and 
techniques for the effective recovery of this species in the wild.

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit written comments on the draft revised recovery plan 
described. All comments received by the date specified above will be 
considered in developing a final revised recovery plan.


    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: October 16, 2003.
David J. Wesley,
Acting Regional Director, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-31467 Filed 12-19-03; 8:45 am]