[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 29 (Wednesday, February 12, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 8413-8416]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-02982]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024; FXES11130900000C6-145-FF09E42000]
RIN 1018-AU96

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the 
Hawaiian Hawk From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; document availability and reopening of comment 


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
reopening of the public comment period on the August 6, 2008, proposed 
rule to remove the Hawaiian hawk or Io (Buteo solitarius) from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List) under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Comments submitted during the 
2008 comment period and 2009 reopened comment periods do not need to be 
resubmitted, and will be fully considered in preparation of our final 
rule. However, we invite comments on the new information presented in 
this document relevant to our consideration of the status of Hawaiian 
hawk. We encourage those who may have commented previously to submit 
additional comments, if appropriate, in light of this new information. 
Further, we are again making available for public review the draft 
post-delisting monitoring plan for the Hawaiian hawk, and we invite 
comments on that draft plan.

DATES: The comment period for the proposed rule published August 6, 
2008, at 73 FR 45680 is reopened. To ensure that we are able to 
consider your comments and information, they must be received or 
postmarked no later than April 14, 2014. Please note that, if you are 
using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below), the 
deadline for submitting an electronic comment is 11:59 p.m. Eastern 
Time on this date. We may not be able to address or incorporate 
information that we receive after the above requested date.

ADDRESSES: Document availability: Electronic copies of the 2008 
proposed delisting of the Hawaiian hawk, comments received, and the 
draft post-delisting monitoring plan (draft PDM Plan) can be obtained 
from the Web sites http://www.regulations.gov (under Docket No. FWS-R1-
ES-2007-0024) or http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands. To request a 
hardcopy of the proposed rule or the draft PDM Plan, write to: Field 
Supervisor, Attention: Hawaiian Hawk Proposed Delisting/Draft PDM Plan, 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Rm. 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850; or 
call 808-792-9400; or send an email request to jay_nelson@fws.gov.
    Written comments: You may submit comments and information by one of 
the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for docket number FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024. 
Please ensure you have found the correct document before submitting 
your comments.
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will post all comments and information we receive on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 
3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850; telephone (808-792-9400); or facsimile (808-
792-9581). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), 
please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-


Previous Federal Actions

    The Hawaiian hawk was added to the U.S. Department of the 
Interior's list of endangered species on March 11, 1967 (32 FR 4001), 
in accordance with section 1(c) of the Endangered Species Preservation 
Act of October 15, 1966 (80 Stat. 926; 16 U.S.C. 668aa(c)). Its status 
as an endangered species was retained under the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). A recovery plan for 
the Hawaiian hawk was published on May 9, 1984 (Service 1984).
    The Service published a proposed rule to reclassify the Hawaiian 
hawk from endangered to threatened on August 5, 1993 (58 FR 41684), 
based on Griffin's (1985, p. 25) preliminary population estimate of 
1,400 to 2,500 adult birds and because it was discovered that the 
species occupied, and nested in, nonnative forests and exploited 
nonnative prey species as a food resource. However, the proposal was 
not finalized; during the comment period, several commenters expressed 
concerns that the population data used in the proposal were not current 
and there was not enough known about the hawk's breeding success to 
warrant downlisting. In response, in 1997, the Service formed the Io 
Recovery Working Group (IRWG), the mission of which was to provide 
oversight and advice on aspects of the recovery of the Hawaiian hawk.
    On February 3, 1997, we received a petition from the National 
Wilderness Institute to delist the Hawaiian hawk. We responded to that 
petition in a letter dated June 19, 1998, indicating that we could not 
immediately work on the petition due to higher priority listing and 
delisting actions.
    We published a proposed rule to delist the Hawaiian hawk, due to 
recovery, on August 6, 2008, with a 60-day comment period that closed 
October 6, 2008 (73 FR 45680). The proposed delisting was based on 
several studies that had shown the range-wide population estimates had 
been stable for at least 20 years and this species was not threatened 
with becoming endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range in the foreseeable future.
    We made available the draft post-delisting monitoring plan for the 
Hawaiian hawk (draft PDM plan) on February 11, 2009 (74 FR 6853), with 
a 60-day comment period that closed April 13, 2009. In that same 
document, we reopened the comment period for the proposed delisting 
rule for 60 days, also ending April 13, 2009.
    We published a schedule of public hearings on the proposed rule on 
June 5, 2009 (74 FR 27004), to allow interested parties an opportunity 
to comment on the proposed rule and draft PDM plan, and we reopened the 
proposal's comment period for another 60 days, ending August 4, 2009. 
We held public hearings on June 30, 2009,

[[Page 8414]]

in Hilo, Hawaii, and on July 1, 2009, in Captain Cook, Hawaii.


    In this document, we will only discuss new information pertinent to 
the proposed delisting of the Hawaiian hawk. For a more detailed 
description of the Hawaiian hawk, its status, its threats, and a 
summary of factors affecting the species, please refer to the August 6, 
2008, proposed rule to delist the species (73 FR 45680; see ADDRESSES) 
and the recovery plan (http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/840509.pdf ). During the comment periods and public hearings following 
the August 6, 2008, proposed rule to delist the species, we received 
comments from 3 independent biologists with expertise in the ecology of 
the Hawaiian hawk, 5 comments from State of Hawaii and county agencies, 
and 118 comments from the general public.

New Information

    During the comment periods, we received new or updated information 
on projected urban growth rates and conversion of agriculture lands to 
unsuitable hawk habitat, both of which we previously identified and 
analyzed in the proposed rule. Also, we received more information on 
the potential effects of climate change on Hawaiian hawk habitat. The 
majority of relevant information that has become available since our 
2008 proposal to delist the Hawaiian hawk is from public comments, 
recent publications, and further evaluation of existing information.
    We funded an island-wide survey of Hawaiian hawks that was 
completed in the summer of 2007 to determine if there had been any 
population change since 1998 to 1999 and to better understand possible 
regional differences in hawk density, habitat use, and habitat quality 
(Gorresen et al. 2008). Island-wide survey results were summarized in 
the August 6, 2008, proposed rule (73 FR 45680). To evaluate possible 
regional differences in hawk density and habitat use, the researchers 
divided the hawk's range into four regions: Hamakua, Puna, Kau, and 
Kona, based on a combination of climatic, geological, and vegetation 
factors and contiguity in land cover.
    Habitat and region were found to be significantly associated with 
Hawaiian hawk density (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 15). Rankings of 
combined 1998 and 2007 hawk densities showed that Puna supported lower 
hawk numbers generally for all habitats compared to other regions 
(Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 16). In the Kona region, mature native forest 
and mature native forest with grass understory had greater hawk 
densities than areas dominated by orchards, shrubland, pioneer native 
forest, and urban habitats (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 15). Native-exotic 
forest in Hamakua had more than four times the hawk density than 
similar habitats in Puna, while mature native forest in Kona supported 
greater densities of hawks than the same habitat in Puna (Gorresen et 
al. 2008, p. 15).
    The researchers delineated the Hawaiian hawk's breeding range by 
mapping mid- to tall-stature wet to mesic native and exotic forest, and 
foraging habitat available within 1 mile (mi) (2.86 kilometers (km)) of 
forest patches (distance to foraging habitat was based on the diameter 
of the largest adult hawk home range) (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 11). 
The resulting 2,221-square-mile (sq-mi) (5,755-square-kilometer (sq-
km)) breeding range included all hawks detected during the 1998 to 1999 
and 2007 surveys, and was approximately 6 percent smaller than the 
usable habitat area for hawks determined by Klavitter et al. (2003, p. 
    We examined trends in human population, urban and exurban growth, 
and land subdivision over the past three decades for Hawaii County to 
better understand the history of habitat change on Hawaii and the 
potential effects of these factors on Hawaiian hawk habitat and density 
in the future. The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development 
and Tourism (HDBEDT 2012) projected the population of Hawaii County to 
grow 1.6 percent annually from 2010 to 2040, a 32 percent population 
increase over 20 years.
    The number of private residential construction permits issued 
annually by Hawaii County for single-family dwellings more than doubled 
from 1995 to 2007, from 908 to 1,852 permits (County of Hawaii 2010, 
Table 16.7). The total number of housing units built nearly doubled 
from 1984 to 2007, from 39,164 to 77,650 units (County of Hawaii 2010, 
Tables 16.9 and 16.10). The pace of home construction was most rapid in 
the Puna and North Kona Districts, with increases of 105.6 and 67.7 
percent, respectively, in the total number of housing units built from 
1990 to 2000 (County of Hawaii 2010, Table 16.13). We expect 
residential and exurban construction for Hawaii County to continue at a 
similar pace in the foreseeable future as indicated by expected human 
population growth for Hawaii County and home construction for the 
island of Hawaii for the last three decades.
    We also analyzed tax-map keys (TMKs) for the years 1996 and 2009 to 
better understand land subdivision on Hawaii and how this might relate 
to potential changes in Hawaiian hawk habitat (Nelson and Metevier 
2010, pp. 1-3). Over this time period, the number of land parcels less 
than 1 acre (ac) in size increased almost three fold from 25,925 to 
74,620 parcels. There was a greater than three-fold increase in the 
land area for parcels of this size, from 7,680 ac (3,107 hectares (ha), 
31 sq km) to 24,458 ac (9,897 ha, 99 sq km); the latter is equal to 
approximately 1.7 percent of the hawk's current range. Almost half of 
the subdivision activity occurred in the Puna region. Parcels of 1 acre 
or less in size do not require a grubbing permit if grubbing (i.e., 
vegetation clearing) does not alter the general and localized drainage 
pattern with respect to abutting properties (County of Hawaii 2005a, p. 
    Of the total land area in the Puna region, 46.2 percent is zoned 
for agriculture. Large areas of these lands were subdivided during the 
1950s and 1960s, with lot sizes ranging from 0.2 to 6 ac (0 to 2 ha) 
(Punaguide 2013, p. 2). More than 51,000 ac (20,638 ha) (23 percent) of 
lands zoned for agriculture and other uses were subdivided from 1958 to 
1973 in the Puna District south of the Hawaii Belt Road (Punaguide 
2013, pp. 2-3). Almost all lands zoned for agriculture between Hilo 
Town and Volcano Village north of the Hawaii Belt Road were subdivided 
to some extent between 1996 and 2009 (Nelson and Metevier 2010, pp. 1-
2). Many of the areas south of the Hawaii Belt Road are developed or 
are currently being developed as low density residential housing 
(Punaguide 2013, pp. 2-3).
    Hunting of prey by Hawaiian hawk may be inhibited in areas with 
close standing trees that limit the hawk's ability to maneuver in 
flight, such as groves of nonnative strawberry guava (Psidium 
cattleianum), which dominates as much as 10 percent (37.5 sq mi, 97 sq 
km) of the forest area in conservation district lands in the Puna 
region (State of Hawaii 2010, p. 114). Because of its ability to form 
impenetrable groves of close standing trees, the invasion of large 
areas of native forests by strawberry guava poses a significant and 
serious threat to Hawaiian hawk habitat. Recent research suggests 
projected temperature and precipitation change in Hawaii will likely 
facilitate the spread of strawberry guava from its present distribution 
in lowland wet- and mesic-forest into higher elevation montane forests 
dominated by native species (Denslow 2008, p. 1). It is projected that 

[[Page 8415]]

100 years strawberry guava, if not controlled, could invade native 
forests to elevations as high as 6,000 feet (ft) (1,800 meters (m)) 
(McDermitt 2009, p. 1; Price et al. 2009, slides 22-23). This expansion 
would have the potential to degrade up to 36 percent of the hawk's 
range to an elevation of 4,500 ft (1,500 m) (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 
25). Based on the above projections, we anticipate approximately 7 
percent of current usable Hawaiian hawk habitat could be degraded in 
the next 20 years by the continued spread of strawberry guava into 
native forests. A biocontrol agent for strawberry guava, the Brazilian 
scale insect Tectococcus ovatus, was released in 2012 on Hawaii in two 
demonstration plots. Insects released have established and begun to 
reproduce and spread within individual trees, and the agent is planned 
to be released within native forest sites (Chaney and Johnson in HCC 
2013, p. 74). It is too early, however, to know what effect this may 
have on guava tree vigor and rate of spread.
    The August 6, 2008, proposed rule (73 FR 45680, pp. 45684-45685) 
analyzed the potential threat to Hawaiian hawk habitat posed by the 
conversion of current agricultural lands to crops for biodiesel fuel 
production (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 10). That analysis was based on a 
report prepared in 2006 for the State of Hawaii Department of 
Agriculture that identified agricultural lands on the island of Hawaii 
that would be suitable for such crop production (Poteet 2006, pp. 27-
28). Construction and testing of biodiesel facilities is progressing, 
and one facility is now located on Hawaii Island. In addition to other 
information we request in the Public Comments section, below, we 
request new information on the actual conversion of agricultural land 
to crops for biodiesel fuel production, including former and current 
crop type and acreage.
    Hawaiian hawks frequently nest in native ohia (Metrosideros 
polymorpha,an evergreen tree in the myrtle family). Within the past 5 
years, landowners in lower Puna District have noticed an increased rate 
of ohia dieback (Friday and Friday 2013, entire), a phenomenon where 
trees affected show progressive dieback accompanied by browning of the 
leaves, reduction in leaf size, and death of all or part of the crown 
(Hodges et al. 1986, p. ii.). Ohia dieback occurs on Hawaii in all 
areas with ohia trees, and is attributed to several causes including 
volcanic emissions, wet soil conditions, displacement by native tree 
fern (Cibotium spp.), dense stands of ohia trees, and proximity to 
fault lines (Hodges et al. 1986, p. 4; Friday and Friday 2013, p. 2). 
Ohia dieback is localized, and large areas of healthy ohia forest often 
remain adjacent to dieback areas.
    Although new information shows negative habitat trends due to 
urbanization and nonnative plant species invasion, efforts at habitat 
restoration that benefit the Hawaiian hawk are achieving success in 
several areas including reforestation at the Hakalau Forest National 
Wildlife Refuge, and fencing and ungulate removal at Puu Waawaa Forest 
Bird Sanctuary and parts of the State's Natural Area Reserve System 
(Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 26). Management goals for native forests 
damaged by ungulate browsing and grazing usually are to restore 
ecosystem structure to improve and maintain watershed values and 
promote native species diversity (TMA 2007, p. 26). The State of 
Hawaii's initiative, The Rain Follows the Forest, for example, 
identifies priority watersheds and outlines on-the-ground actions and 
projects required to sustain Hawaii's critical water sources (DLNR 
2011, p. 1). Currently, only 10 percent of the priority watershed areas 
are protected; however, The Rain Follows the Forest seeks to double the 
amount of protected watershed areas, including some areas on Hawaii 
Island, in just 10 years. The Kohala Watershed Partnership, Mauna Kea 
Watershed Alliance, and Three Mountain Alliance are currently 
conducting work to remove ungulates and improve or restore over 19,000 
ac (7,689 ha) of forest area on Hawaii Island (DLNR 2011, p. 16).
    In addition, forest restoration programs like the Hawaiian Legacy 
Reforestation Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forestry 
Program, and Hawaii's Forest Stewardship Program benefit Hawaiian hawk 
habitat through restoration of relatively intact native forests and 
reforestation of pasture areas. The focus of these programs over the 
last few decades has been the development of a native hardwoods 
forestry industry with native koa (Acacia koa) as the species of 
primary interest. Suitability of koa plantations for Hawaiian hawk 
foraging and nesting has not been studied, and hawk use of these areas 
may be variable, because koa plantations likely differ in their 
suitability as hawk habitat depending upon age of koa stands, stand 
density, and over-story characteristics related to harvest methods 
    Despite habitat concerns, as explained in our August 6, 2008, 
proposed rule, the Hawaiian hawk is resilient enough to maintain itself 
over time in a variety of habitat types including native, native-
exotic, and exotic forest (Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170).

Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan

    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires us, in cooperation with the 
States, to implement a monitoring program for not less than 5 years for 
all species that have been delisted due to recovery. The purpose of 
this post-delisting monitoring (PDM) is to verify that the species 
remains secure from risk of extinction after it has been removed from 
the protections of the Act. The PDM is designed to detect the failure 
of any delisted species to sustain itself without the protective 
measures provided by the Act. If, at any time during the monitoring 
period, data indicate that protective status under the Act should be 
reinstated, we can initiate listing procedures, including, if 
appropriate, emergency listing under section 4(b)(7) of the Act. 
Section 4(g) of the Act explicitly requires cooperation with the States 
in development and implementation of PDM programs, but we remain 
responsible for compliance with section 4(g) and, therefore, must 
remain actively engaged in all phases of PDM. We also seek active 
participation of other entities that are expected to assume 
responsibilities for the species' conservation post-delisting.
    The Service has developed a draft PDM plan for Hawaiian hawk in 
cooperation with the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural 
Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW); the National Park 
Service (NPS); and the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources 
Division (BRD). The PDM includes monitoring the Hawaiian hawk 
population every 5 years for 20 years and is designed to verify that 
the Hawaiian hawk remains secure from risk of extinction after its 
removal from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. We 
made available the draft PDM plan on February 11, 2009 (74 FR 6853), 
with a 60-day comment period that closed April 13, 2009. With this 
document, we are again soliciting public comments and peer review on 
the draft PDM plan. All comments on the draft PDM plan from the public 
and peer reviewers will be considered and incorporated into the final 
PDM plan as appropriate.
    The following is a brief summary of the draft PDM plan. Please see 
the plan, available at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands or at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024, for more 
details. The PDM plan for the Hawaiian hawk covers a 20-year period, 
and will include abundance, distribution, and disease monitoring. 
Variable circular

[[Page 8416]]

plot (VCP) surveys (Gorresen et al. 2008, pp. 10-11) for Hawaiian hawk 
will be conducted from March through July every 5 years, following the 
stations used in the 2007 surveys. Densities will be used to 
extrapolate population estimates, and differences in estimated hawk 
densities will be compared among years, regions, and habitats. All dead 
Hawaiian hawks found by field crews during VCP surveys or reported by 
the public will be salvaged and necropsied to determine the cause of 
death. Monitoring cooperators will report all dead, injured, and 
diseased birds to the Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife 
Office, which will collate information on disease, cause of injury or 
death, location, date, and any other relevant data.
    If monitoring reveals any cause for concern, such as reduced 
numbers of Hawaiian hawk or decreased range, a more comprehensive 
ground assessment of the monitored populations, or addition of extra 
monitoring sites, may be necessary. If monitoring concerns become 
sufficiently high, we will conduct a full status review of the species 
to determine if relisting is warranted.

Public Comments

    We intend that any final action resulting from the proposal will be 
based on the best scientific and commercial data available and will be 
as accurate and effective as possible. To ensure our determination is 
based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we 
request information on the Hawaiian hawk from governmental agencies, 
native Hawaiian groups, the scientific community, industry, and any 
other interested parties. We request comments or suggestions on our 
August 6, 2008 (73 FR 45680), proposal to delist the Hawaiian hawk; our 
draft PDM plan; new information presented in this Federal Register 
document; and any other information. Specifically, we seek information 
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Life history, ecology, and habitat use of Hawaiian hawk, 
including utilization of koa plantations and exurban areas;
    (b) Range, distribution, population size, and population trends;
    (c) Positive and negative effects of current and foreseeable land 
management practices on Hawaiian hawk, including conservation efforts 
associated with watershed partnerships and The Rain Follows the Forest 
initiative; patterns of land subdivision and development; effects on 
native forest of introduced plant species; conversion of land to 
biodiesel production, forestry, and diversified agriculture; and 
potential effects of biocontrol efforts on strawberry guava; and
    (d) Potential effects of temperature and rainfall change on fire 
frequency and intensity and forest type and distribution.
    (2) The factors, as detailed in the August 6, 2008, proposed rule 
(73 FR 45680), that are the basis for making a listing/delisting/
downlisting determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act, 
which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    (3) The draft post-delisting monitoring plan.
    You may submit your information by one of the methods listed in 
ADDRESSES. If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, 
your entire submission--including any personal identifying 
information--will be posted on the Web site. If you submit a hardcopy 
that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the 
top of your document that we withhold this personal identifying 
information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Information and supporting documentation that we receive and use in 
preparing the proposal will be available for you to review at http://www.regulations.gov, or you may make an appointment during normal 
business hours at the Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife 
    If you submitted comments or information previously on the August 
6, 2008, proposed rule (73 FR 45680); the February 11, 2009, document 
that made available our draft PDM plan (74 FR 6853); or our June 5, 
2009, publication announcing public hearings and reopening the 
proposal's comment period (74 FR 27004), please do not resubmit them. 
These comments have been incorporated into the public record and will 
be fully considered in the preparation of our final determination.
    The Service will finalize a new listing determination after we have 
completed our review of the best available scientific and commercial 
information, including information and comments submitted during this 
comment period. In summary, the outcome of our review could result in: 
(1) A final rule to delist the Hawaiian hawk; (2) a final rule to 
downlist (i.e., reclassify to threatened) the Hawaiian hawk; or (3) a 
withdrawal of the 2008 proposed rule to delist the species.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Service's Pacific 
Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).


    The primary authors of this document are staff of the Service's 
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: February 4, 2014.
Rowan W. Gould,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-02982 Filed 2-11-14; 8:45 am]