Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Reopens Public Comment Period, To Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Protection of Five Species from American Samoa

January 4, 2016

Contact:

Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220
Website: https://www.fws.gov/external-affairs/public-affairs/


The mao (Gymnomyza samoensis) is endemic to the Samoan Archipelago and is now restricted to the islands of Upolu and Savaii in Samoa. Credit: R. Stirnemann

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, 2016, on the island of Tutuila 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.

“We encourage the people of American Samoa to actively participate in the public comment period and the public hearing to help ensure our analysis is based on all of the relevant information available about these unique species and their threats. We are listening and want to learn what information people have to share with us,” said Mary Abrams, the Service’s field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “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.”

Details about the five species proposed for listing include:

  • The friendly ground dove, also known as the yuaimeo (Gallicolumba stairi), occurs on the islands of Ofu and Olosega in American Samoa, 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 mao (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. Comments can be submitted electronically, by hard copy or provided verbally or hand-delivery at the public hearing. Comments on the proposed rule and other supporting information (including comment submittal instructions and dates) are available at www.regulations.gov. The docket number for this rulemaking is FWS-R1-ES-2015-0128. Written comments and information can also be submitted by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R1-ES-2015-0128; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

Once the comment period closes, the Service will review comments received and develop a final rule. Comments previously submitted during the first comment period do not need to be resubmitted.

This final rule will be published in the Federal Register.

For more information on these species and the proposed listing or to view the Federal Register notice, visit http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.


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