[Federal Register: December 18, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 243)]
[Page 70527-70528]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the `Alal[amacr] (Corvus

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 `Alal[amacr], 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 `Alal[amacr]
was listed as an endangered species in 1967 (32 FR 4001). The original
recovery plan for the `Alal[amacr] was published in 1982.

DATES: Comments on the draft revised recovery plan must be received on
or before February 17, 2004 to receive our consideration.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft revised recovery plan are available for
inspection, by 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 promote 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

[[Page 70528]]

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
    The Hawaiian Crow, or `Alal[amacr], is an omnivorous, forest-
dwelling bird endemic to dry and mesic forests on the island of Hawaii.
Although `Alal[amacr] were still abundant in the 1890's, their numbers
decreased sharply throughout 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 `Alal[amacr] 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 `Alal[amacr] 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
    Many factors contributed to the decline of `Alal[amacr] 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
`Alal[amacr] eggs and fledglings. Diseases carried by introduced
mosquitoes may have cause the mortality of many `Alal[amacr], 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 `Alal[amacr] 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 `Alal[amacr] so that its protection under the Act
is no longer necessary. Recovery is contingent upon protecting and
managing suitable habitat for reintroduction of `Alal[amacr]. 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 `Alal[amacr] by `Io predation, and the development of
means to address threats of avian disease. Key to recovery will be
propagation of `Alal[amacr] 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 `Alal[amacr] and provide
better cover for escape in areas with `Io.
    Significant features of the `Alal[amacr]'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 `Alal[amacr] 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 `Alal[amacr] 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,
Regional Director, Region 1, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-31166 Filed 12-17-03; 8:45 am]