Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.
At the end of yesterday's blog, I wrote that we were off to see the endangred Palila on Mauna Kea, a volcano that stands at almost 14,000 feet.
Well, we did see the endangered Palila along the western flank of the volcano. It's a striking bird with yellow shoulders and a formidable stubby bill for breaking into the seed pods of the Mamane tree.
Non-native ungulates are limiting regeneration of the forest, which has put the bird on a long term path of decline, and crashing 79% in the past decade. The birds we saw were among the last 1200 estimated to exist.
After this amazing experience, we traveled to the peak of Mauna Kea, where I received what is believed to be the highest altitude briefing ever for a Service Director with both feet on the ground.
In sub-freezing temperatures, with winds of at least 30 mph, I was briefed on the listing status of an insect which occupies the extreme habitat along the crater ridges -- The Wekiu. We also had what is believed to be the first inter-squad, inter-agency, DOI snowball fight in Hawaii.