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

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 85 Issue 1 (Thursday, January 2, 2020)
[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 1 (Thursday, January 2, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 164-189]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-27339]
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Vol. 85
Thursday,
No. 1
January 2, 2020
Part II
Department of the Interior
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Fish and Wildlife Service
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50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Hawaiian
Hawk From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Final
Rule
Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 1 / Thursday, January 2, 2020 / Rules
and Regulations
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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
[Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024; 92220-1113-0000-C6]
RIN 1018-AU96
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the
Hawaiian Hawk From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
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SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as
amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are
removing the Hawaiian hawk (io) (Buteo solitarius) from the Federal
List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This determination is based
on a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial
data, including comments received, which indicates the Hawaiian hawk no
longer meets the definition of an endangered species or a threatened
species under the Act. Our review of the status of this species shows
that the rangewide population estimates have been stable for at least
30 years, and that the species is not currently, nor is likely to
become again, an endangered species within the foreseeable future in
all or a significant portion of its range.
DATES: This rule is effective February 3, 2020.
ADDRESSES: This final rule and the post-delisting monitoring plan are
available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket
No. FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024. Comments, materials received, and supporting
documentation used in preparation of this final rule will be available
for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at
the Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana
Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Katherine Mullett, Acting Field
Supervisor, telephone: 808-792-9400. Direct all questions or requests
for additional information to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific
Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122,
Honolulu, HI 96850. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the
deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Executive Summary
    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Act, a species may be
added to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants
(Lists) if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a
significant portion of its range. Adding a species to the Lists
(``listing'') or removing a species from the Lists (``delisting'') can
only be accomplished by issuing a rule.
    What this document does. This rule removes the Hawaiian hawk (io,
Buteo solitarius) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife. This rule also makes available the final post-delisting
monitoring plan for the Hawaiian hawk.
    Basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a
species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of five
factors: (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 existence. We may delist a species if the best scientific and
commercial data indicate the species is neither endangered nor
threatened. We have determined that the Hawaiian hawk has recovered and
no longer meets the definition of an endangered species or a threatened
species under the Act.
    Threats to the Hawaiian hawk identified at the time of listing in
1967 included low number of individuals and loss and degradation of
habitat. We reviewed all available scientific and commercial
information pertaining to the five factors in our status review of the
Hawaii hawk, and the results are summarized below.
     We consider the Hawaiian hawk not threatened by a low
number of individuals, habitat loss, or degradation because this hawk
has a stable population, estimated at approximately 3,000 individuals.
The population is well distributed in both native and nonnative habitat
from sea level to 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) elevation across the island
of Hawaii. At the time of listing it was thought that only several
hundred Hawaiian hawks were in existence, and that they depended solely
on native habitat. Since then, studies have shown that Hawaiian hawks
nest, breed, and feed in both native and nonnative habitats, and eat a
variety of nonnative prey (e.g., rats, and mongooses). Additionally,
many Hawaiian hawks exist on public lands managed for fish and wildlife
conservation.
     The threat of harassment and shooting of Hawaiian hawks
may exist as noted in the recovery plan; however, we do not find this a
significant threat. The Hawaiian hawk has retained a stable population
over decades and there is much public support for protecting Hawaiian
hawks for cultural reasons because it is widely recognized as an
aumakua or familial guardian spirit in Hawaiian culture.
     Studies have shown that Hawaiian hawks are not threatened
by predation from rats, mongooses, or cats, nor are they threatened by
bird diseases (i.e., avian malaria, and avian pox) or environmental
contaminants.
     We do not consider effects related to climate change to be
a substantial threat to the species at this time, and we do not expect
climate change effects to rise to the magnitude or severity such that
the species will be likely to become an endangered species within the
foreseeable future. While we recognize that climate change effects,
such as rising ambient atmospheric temperature, increased drought,
intensified hurricanes, and shift in native and nonnative species'
ranges, may have potential effects on Hawaiian hawks and their habitat,
the best available information does not indicate that such effects will
significantly impact Hawaiian hawks or the habitat upon which they
depend, now or in the foreseeable future. We expect that the Hawaiian
hawk's susceptibility to climate change effects is low into the
foreseeable future given the range and diversity of habitats occupied
by the species, the adaptability of the species, and its resistance to
bird diseases such as avian malaria and avian pox virus. The species'
resistance to bird diseases is important because studies show that the
range of mosquitos (the vectors of avian malaria), which is currently
limited to lower, warmer elevations, will expand to higher elevations
due to increased temperatures associated with climate change.
     We do not consider rapid ohia death (ROD) to be a
substantial threat to the Hawaiian hawk at this time, and we do not
expect the impacts from ROD to rise to the magnitude or severity such
that the species will be likely to become an endangered species within
the foreseeable future. While we recognize that ROD is a threat to the
integrity of native ohia forests and species solely dependent on ohia
trees, Hawaiian hawks are not solely dependent on native forests and
are highly adaptable. We believe it is reasonable to conclude that the
Hawaiian hawk will likely
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adapt to future changes and maintain viability into the foreseeable
future. Additionally, there is more forested area on the island of
Hawaii than in the recent past. There are increased reforestation and
conservation efforts, and the timber industry is shifting from
nonnative to native trees, as well as using harvesting techniques that
are more Hawaiian hawk and forest bird friendly.
    Therefore, we find that delisting the Hawaiian hawk is warranted,
and we are removing this taxon from the Federal List of Endangered and
Threatened Wildlife. We prepared a final post-delisting monitoring plan
to monitor the Hawaiian hawk after delisting to verify that the species
remains secure.
    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments on the proposed
delisting rule from independent specialists to ensure that this rule is
based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We also
considered all comments and information we received during all comment
periods.
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 final recovery
plan for the Hawaiian hawk was completed in 1984 (USFWS 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 a population estimate suggesting the number of Hawaiian hawks
had increased from the low hundreds reported at the time of listing
(Griffin 1985, p. 25) to between 1,400 and 2,500 birds. New research
had shown that although there was extensive destruction of native
forests, and therefore a reduction in quality of available native
habitat (USFWS 1984, pp. 10-11), the Hawaiian hawk had adapted to
occupy, and nest in, nonnative forests and had exploited nonnative prey
species (Berger 1981, p. 79; Griffin 1985, pp. 70-71; Scott et al.
1986, pp. 78-79). Further, Hawaiian hawks were reportedly not
threatened by disease or contaminants (Griffin 1985, pp. 104-107, 194).
During the public comment period for that 1993 proposed rule, several
commenters expressed concerns that the population data used in the
proposal were not current and that the hawk's breeding success was
insufficiently known to warrant reclassification. Based on these
comments, the Service funded an island-wide survey in 1993 to provide a
contemporary rangewide assessment of the distribution and population
status of the hawk, which determined the Hawaiian hawk population to be
between 1,200 and 2,400 birds (Morrison et al. 1994, p. 23; Hall et al.
1997, pp. 13-14). The decision regarding whether or not to reclassify
the Hawaiian hawk from endangered to threatened status was postponed.
    On February 3, 1997, the Service received a petition from the
National Wilderness Institute to delist the Hawaiian hawk, and 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. Also in 1997, the Service
formed the Io Recovery Working Group (IRWG), the mission of which was
to provide advice on aspects of the recovery of the Hawaiian hawk.
Following its first meeting in December 1997, the IRWG forwarded a
report to the Service, in which they recommended that, rather than
focusing primarily on abundance to assess the Hawaiian hawk's overall
status, field studies should look at hawk numbers in combination with
trends (IRWG 1998, p. 4).
    The Service funded a detailed ecological and demographic study of
the Hawaiian hawk and an island-wide survey in 1998-1999 (Klavitter
2000, entire). Upon review of the study results (Klavitter 2000,
entire) and other existing information, the IRWG recommended that the
Hawaiian hawk be delisted due to the lack of evidence of a decline in
numbers, survival rates, or productivity, and lack of evidence of
current substantial loss or degradation of preferred nesting or
foraging habitats (IRWG 2001, p. 3). The IRWG identified nesting and
foraging habitat loss as a potential significant threat to the species
and recommended that regular population and habitat monitoring take
place to assess factors that may produce future declines (IRWG 2001, p.
2).
    The Service funded a third island-wide survey of Hawaiian hawks
that was completed in the summer of 2007, to determine if there had
been any population change since the 1998-1999 surveys (Klavitter 2000,
entire) and to better determine differences in hawk density by region
and habitat (Gorresen et al. 2008, entire). There was no change in the
estimated number of individuals in the population, the range was not
contracting, and that Hawaiian hawks occurred in both native and
nonnative habitats. The results prompted the Service to publish a
proposed rule to delist the Hawaiian hawk, due to recovery and new
information, on August 6, 2008 (73 FR 45680), with a 60-day comment
period that closed October 6, 2008. This proposed rule constituted our
90-day finding and 12-month finding on the February 3, 1997, National
Wilderness Institute's petition. The proposed delisting was based on
rangewide population estimates (Griffin 1985, entire; Hall et al. 1997,
entire; Klavitter et al. 2003, entire; Gorresen et al. 2008, entire)
and demographic modeling (Klavitter et al. 2003, entire).
    The Service reopened the comment period for the August 6, 2008,
proposed delisting rule and made available a draft post-delisting
monitoring plan (draft PDM plan) for the Hawaiian hawk on February 11,
2009 (74 FR 6853); the reopened comment period lasted 60 days, ending
April 13, 2009 (USFWS 2008, entire). We again reopened the proposed
rule's comment period, and published a schedule of public hearings on
the proposed rule, on June 5, 2009 (74 FR 27004); this reopened comment
period also lasted 60 days, ending August 4, 2009. We held public
hearings on June 30, 2009, in Hilo, Hawaii, and on July 1, 2009, in
Captain Cook, Hawaii.
    We subsequently reopened the proposed rule's comment period twice:
On February 12, 2014, we reopened the proposed rule's comment period
for a third time (79 FR 8413), with a 60-day comment period that closed
on April 14, 2014; and on October 30, 2018, we reopened the proposed
rule's comment period for a fourth time (83 FR 54561), with a 30-day
comment period that closed on November 29, 2018.
    In total, we accepted public comments on the proposed delisting of
the Hawaiian hawk for 270 days.
Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule
    In preparing this final rule, we reviewed and fully considered all
comments we received during all five comment periods from the peer
reviewers, State, and public on the proposed delisting rule. We have
not made substantive changes in this final delisting rule based on the
comments we received during the five comment periods on the August 6,
2008, proposed rule (73 FR 45680). Based on peer review, State, and
public comments, we incorporated text and information into this final
rule in order to clarify some of the language in the proposed rule.
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These minor changes are outlined below, and discussed under Summary of
Comments and Recommendations or Summary of Factors Affecting the
Species. This final rule incorporates the following changes, based on
comments we received on our proposed rule:
    (1) The proposed rule stated the elevation range of the Hawaiian
hawk was 1,000 to 8,530 feet (ft) (300 to 2,600 meters (m)). Due to a
peer review comment, and subsequent literature review, we changed the
elevation range to sea level to 8,530 ft (2,600 m).
    (2) Due to comments we received, we conducted a preliminary in-
house population viability assessment (PVA) and updated or expanded
upon discussions regarding drought, hurricanes, climate change, the
nonnative invasive plant strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum), ROD,
feral ungulates, urban development and land subdivisions, biofuel
crops, rodenticides, shooting, disease, and the forestry industry in
this rule (see Recovery Plan Implementation, Summary of Factors
Affecting the Species, and Summary of Comments and Recommendations).
    (3) Due to a peer review comment requesting that we provide
additional information and clarification regarding the Hawaiian hawk's
current and past population abundance estimates to avoid any potential
confusion over apparent changes, we modestly revised the species
description under Species Information.
    (4) We incorporated the new information provided in the 2014 and
2018 notices of the reopening of the comment period on the proposed
delisting rule (79 FR 8413, February 12, 2014; 83 FR 54561, October 30,
2018) under Species Information and Summary of Factors Affecting the
Species. This includes information on trends pertaining to human
population growth, land subdivisions, development, and urbanization;
ROD, ohia dieback, and ohia rust; strawberry guava biocontrol;
environmental impacts associated with climate change; shooting;
Hawaiian hawk population viability; volcanic activity, and myriad
conservation efforts.
Background
Species Information
    The following discussion contains information updated from that
presented in the proposed rule to remove the Hawaiian hawk from the
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, which published in
the Federal Register on August 6, 2008 (73 FR 45680). A thorough
discussion of the species' description, population density, and
abundance is also found in that proposed rule.
Species Description and Life History
    The Hawaiian hawk is a small, broad-winged hawk endemic to (found
only in) the Hawaiian islands, and is the only extant (still in the
wild) member of the family Accipitridae endemic to the Hawaiian islands
(Berger 1981, p. 83; Olson and James 1982, p. 35). The Hawaiian hawk
occurs in light and dark color morphs, with intermediate plumages and
much individual variation (Griffin 1985, p. 46). The light morph is
dark brown above and white below, with brown flecks on the upper
breast. The dark morph is dark brown above and below. The legs, feet,
and cere (fleshy area between the eye and bill) are yellow in adults
and bluish-green in juveniles (Griffin 1985, pp. 58-63).
    The Hawaiian hawk occurs over much of the island of Hawaii, from
sea level to 8,530 ft (2,600 m) elevation, and occupies a variety of
habitat types, including native forest, secondary forest consisting
primarily of nonnative plant species, agricultural areas, and pastures
(Banko 1980, pp. 2-9, 15-16; Scott et al. 1986, pp. 78-79; Hall et al.
1997, p. 14; Griffin et al. 1998, p. 661; Klavitter 2000, pp. 2, 38,
42-45; Klavitter et al. 2003, pp. 169-170, 172, 173; VanderWerf 2008,
in litt.).
    Hawaiian hawks are monogamous and defend their territories year-
round (Griffin 1985, pp. 119-121; Griffin et al. 1998, p. 660; Clarkson
and Laniawe 2000, pp. 6-7). Their breeding distribution is restricted
to the island of Hawaii, but there have been at least eight
observations of vagrant individuals on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, and
Maui since 1778 (Banko 1980, pp. 1-9), and fossil remains have been
found on the islands of Molokai (Olson and James 1982, p. 35) and Kauai
(Olson and James 1996, pp. 65-69; Burney et al. 2001, pp. 628-629).
They may have once completed their life history on other islands;
however, since written records, Hawaiian hawks have only been known to
breed on the island of Hawaii (Banko 1980, p. 2). Egg laying generally
occurs from March to June, hatching from May to July, and fledging from
July to September (Griffin 1985, p. 110; Griffin et al. 1998, p. 656).
Clutch size is usually one egg (Griffin 1985, p. 76; Griffin et al.
1998, p. 657; Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170), but there are a few
records of two or three young per nest (Griffin 1985, pp. 75, 80,
Appendix 1). Hawaiian hawks take about 3 years to obtain adult plumage
(Clarkson and Laniawe 2000, p. 13); however, there are few data
available on the age at which Hawaiian hawks first breed. Although one
researcher documented a 3-year-old female pairing with a male of
unknown age and building a nest, no eggs were laid. Another researcher
documented the formation of a pair bond between a 3-year-old male and a
female with immature plumage. In this case, no nesting attempts were
documented (Clarkson and Laniawe 2000, p. 10). Based on this
information, we believe that the Hawaiian hawk first breeds at 3 or 4
years of age.
    The first detailed study of the ecology and life history of the
Hawaiian hawk was conducted from 1980 to 1982 (Griffin 1985, entire).
During this study, researchers found no significant difference in nest
success between habitats dominated by native versus nonnative
vegetation (Griffin 1985, pp. 102-103; Scott et al. 1986, pp. 78-79).
However, of 113 Hawaiian hawk nests found during a demographic study in
1998 to 1999, 81 percent were in native ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha)
trees (Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170). Additionally, Griffin (1998, p.
661) found little evidence the Hawaiian hawk was adversely affected by
bird disease (avian pox and avian malaria) (Griffin 1998, p. 661).
There was also no evidence the hawk was affected by introduced
mammalian predators, such as cats, rats, or mongoose, or environmental
contaminants such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) (Griffin
1985, pp. 104-107, 194; Griffin et al. 1998, pp. 658, 661).
    The Hawaiian hawk is adaptable and versatile in its feeding habits
and preys on a variety of rodents, birds, and large insects (Munro
1944, p. 48; Griffin 1985, pp. 142-145, Appendix 5; Griffin et al.
1998, p. 659). Hawaiian hawks use still-hunting to capture prey by
perching in trees or other vegetation and stooping on its prey with its
wings tucked and talons forward (Clarkson and Laniawe 2000, p. 3). Of
52 successful hunting bouts observed, 48 (92 percent) were by this
method, only four (8 percent) were by the hawk soaring or hovering then
flying down to grasp their prey (Griffin 1985, p. 162).
    Based on food items delivered by hawks to nestlings, 32 percent of
the Hawaiian hawk's diet is birds and 37 percent is small mammals of
two species (rats (Rattus spp.) and house mouse (Mus musculus)); the
remaining proportion of food items included mongoose (Herpestes
auropunctatus), insects, and unidentified prey items (some of which
were mammals) (Griffin 1985, pp. 143-144).
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Demographics
    Observations made at Sia, The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological
Initiative, a permitted Native American raptor aviary in Oklahoma, show
the lifespan of Hawaiian hawks is at least 21 years in captivity
(Volker 2018, pers. comm.). This is several years more than the
previously reported captive lifespan of 17 years (Clarkson and Laniawe
2000, p. 10; U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) 2007, p. 1). Sia received the two birds in
2015 from the Memphis Zoo, and in 2016, the Hawaiian hawk pair produced
the first-ever Hawaiian hawk chick to hatch in captivity (USFWS 2017,
in litt.; Volker 2018, pers. comm.). Sia attributes their success to
their feeding methods. Staff at Sia realized the metabolism of Hawaiian
hawks is much more active than other raptors of the same size, so they
increased the Hawaiian hawk's food supply substantially. They found
that the female Hawaiian hawk eats as much daily as a male bald eagle
in captivity. The Hawaiian hawk pair are nesting again at 21 years of
age, showing not only that Hawaiian hawks can live for at least 21
years, but may also reproduce at that age in captivity.
    In all successful nests monitored (n=113), only one young fledged
per nest (Klavitter et al. 2003, entire). Annual survival of juveniles
and adults was high (0.50 ( 0.10) and 0.94 (
0.04), respectively), and fecundity (fertility) was 0.23 (
0.04) female young/breeding female in all habitats combined. Nest
success in native habitat tended to be slightly higher than in exotic
habitats, but juvenile survival was higher in exotic habitats than in
native forest (Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170). There was no significant
difference in fecundity or population growth rate between native and
mixed, native and exotic, or mixed and exotic habitats (Klavitter 2000,
pp. 39, 56; Klavitter et al. 2003, pp. 170-171). The overall rate of
population growth based on data from all habitat areas was 1.03 ( 0.04), which is not significantly different than 1.0, indicating
that there was no detectable change in population size across habitat
types from 1998 to 1999 (Klavitter 2000, pp. 40, 56; Klavitter et al.
2003, pp. 170-171).
    We developed a preliminary in-house female-specific stochastic PVA
model for the Hawaiian hawk (Vorsino and Nelson 2016, unpublished data)
using the mean and variance values of age-specific survival and
fecundity in native, mixed, and exotic habitats (Gorresen et al. 2008,
p. 15; Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170). Population viability was
assessed for optimal (i.e., areas with high hawk density: Native forest
with grass understory, mature native forest, native-exotic forest, and
orchards) and sub-optimal habitats (i.e., areas with moderate to low
hawk densities: Degraded due to strawberry guava, coffee planting, and
urban expansion), where population partitioning was based on Hawaiian
hawk densities within the habitat types (optimal/sub-optimal) reported
in Gorresen et al. (2008, p. 15). The effect of catastrophic weather
events on the viability of Hawaiian hawks in these various habitat
types was also projected and assessed. None of the projected PVAs
showed a Hawaiian hawk population that declined to either zero, or
below a quasi-extinction threshold of 50 individuals, when projected
over 30 years across 500 model iterations. At 30 years, an approximate
doubling of the population in optimal habitat was projected, whereas
the population in sub-optimal habitat decreased by approximately one
third. This reduction in the sub-optimal habitats population was the
result of habitat degradation and reduced habitat carrying capacity for
areas affected by strawberry guava invasion, coffee planting, and urban
expansion. Of the habitat threats identified in this PVA, invasion by
strawberry guava of mixed native-exotic and mature native forest had
the most negative impact on Hawaiian hawk habitat. This PVA provides
insight regarding Hawaiian hawk viability with respect to the quality
of different habitat types in relation to impacts from strawberry
guava, coffee farming, urban development, and an increase in extreme
weather events due to climate change. Although it does not consider any
potentially positive impacts resulting from the new strawberry guava
biocontrol efforts or the increase in conservation actions and acreage
of land set aside for conservation in perpetuity since the Hawaiian
hawk's 1967 listing, we feel it continues to be useful in our analysis.
We included this PVA in our analysis of strawberry guava under our
Factor A discussion, below (also see Recovery Plan Implementation,
below).
Abundance and Distribution
    At the time of listing in 1967, it was thought that the Hawaiian
hawk population was in the low hundreds; however, there was little
information pertaining to Hawaiian hawk abundance and distribution
prior to listing, so this estimate has been questioned. Since listing,
several population abundance and distribution studies have been
conducted. The first preliminary population estimate of 1,400 to 2,500
birds (Griffin 1985, p. 25) was based on home range size from radio
telemetry data and distribution data from island-wide bird surveys.
Surveys conducted from December 1993 to February 1994 showed the
Hawaiian hawk widely distributed in both native and nonnative habitats
and provided a population estimate of 1,600 birds, made up of 1,120
adults, or 560 pairs (Morrison et al. 1994, p. 23; Hall et al. 1997,
pp. 13-14). A detailed ecological and demographic study of the Hawaiian
hawk was conducted from 1998 to 1999; this study found that Hawaiian
hawks were broadly distributed throughout the island of Hawaii, and
that 58.7 percent of the island (2,372 square miles (sq mi) (6,143
square kilometers (sq km))) contained habitat for the hawk. State and
Federal forests, parks, and refuges, totaling 754 sq mi (1,954 sq km),
supported 469 hawks, and made up 32 percent of the species' habitat
(Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170). The total Hawaiian hawk population in
this study was estimated to be 1,457 ( 176.3 birds)
(Klavitter 2000, pp. 38, 96; Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170).
    The most recent island-wide survey was completed in the summer of
2007 (Gorresen et al. 2008, entire). The researchers used updated
vegetation maps and methods to calculate population and density
estimates for the 1998-1999 survey data and the 2007 survey data. Using
consistent maps and methods, they were then able to compare population
size and density over time to see if there had been significant
changes. They found that, in reanalyzing the 1998-1999 data (Klavitter
2000, entire) with the new method, the Hawaiian hawk population
actually numbered 3,239 (95 percent confidence interval (CI)=2,610 to
3,868) birds in 1998, which was more than double the original estimate
of 1,457 ( 176.3 birds) from 1998-1999 (Klavitter 2000, pp.
38, 96; Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170). Using the 2007 survey data,
they estimated the population to number 3,085 hawks (95 percent
CI=2,496 to 3,680). There was no significant difference in densities
found in 1998 and 2007, and no evidence that the Hawaiian hawk's
spatial distribution had changed (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 6). Using
these new analytic methods not available during past Hawaiian hawk
population surveys, the Hawaiian hawk's population size was
consistently about 3,000 individuals between 1997 and 2007 (Gorresen et
al. 2008, entire). The differences in population estimates from the
earlier surveys were not actual differences but were due only to
differences in analytic methods. All
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available data indicate that the Hawaiian hawk population had remained
relatively constant over a nearly 30 year period (approximately 1980
through 2008) (Griffin 2008, in litt.). Based on our 5-factor analysis
under section 4 of the Act (see Summary of Factors Affecting the
Species, below), we conclude there has not been any significant change
in the Hawaiian hawk's population trend over the past 10 or more years
(2008 through 2019).
Recovery Planning and Recovery Criteria
    Section 4(f) of the Act directs us to develop and implement
recovery plans for the conservation and survival of endangered and
threatened species unless we determine that such a plan will not
promote the conservation of the species. Under section 4(f)(1)(B)(ii),
recovery plans must, to the maximum extent practicable, include:
``Objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a
determination, in accordance with the provisions of [section 4 of the
Act], that the species be removed from the list.'' However, revisions
to the List (adding, removing, or reclassifying a species) must reflect
determinations made in accordance with sections 4(a)(1) and 4(b) of the
Act. Section 4(a)(1) requires that the Secretary determine whether a
species is endangered or threatened (or not) because of one or more of
five threat factors. Section 4(b) of the Act requires that the
determination be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and
commercial data available.'' Therefore, recovery criteria should help
indicate when we would anticipate that an analysis of the five threat
factors under section 4(a)(1) would result in a determination that the
species is no longer an endangered species or threatened species
because of any of the five statutory factors (see Summary of Factors
Affecting the Species, below).
    While recovery plans provide important guidance to the Service,
States, and other partners on methods of minimizing threats to listed
species and measurable objectives against which to measure progress
towards recovery, they are not regulatory documents and cannot
substitute for the determinations and promulgation of regulations
required under section 4(a)(1) of the Act. A decision to revise the
status of, or remove a species from, the Federal List of Endangered and
Threatened Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11(h)) is ultimately based on an
analysis of the best scientific and commercial data then available to
determine whether a species is no longer an endangered species or a
threatened species, regardless of whether that information differs from
the recovery plan.
    There are many paths to recovery of a species, and recovery may be
achieved without all criteria being fully met. For example, one or more
criteria may be exceeded while other criteria may not yet be
accomplished. In that instance, we may determine that the threats are
minimized sufficiently and the species is robust enough to remove from
the List. In other cases, recovery opportunities may be discovered that
were not known when the recovery plan was finalized. These
opportunities may be used instead of methods identified in the recovery
plan. Likewise, information on the species may be discovered that was
not known at the time the recovery plan was finalized. The new
information may change the extent to which criteria need to be met for
recognizing recovery of the species. Recovery of a species is a dynamic
process requiring adaptive management that may, or may not, fully
follow the guidance provided in a recovery plan.
Recovery Planning
    The Hawaiian hawk was listed as an endangered species in 1967 (32
FR 4001; March 11, 1967) based on a perceived low population number,
purported range contraction from several Hawaiian islands to just one
(the island of Hawaii), and habitat loss and degradation of native
forests from agriculture, logging, and commercial development
(Orenstein 1968, pp. 21-27; Berger 1981, p. 79; USFWS 1984, pp. 1-13;
Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 165). Additionally, at the time of listing,
raptors around the world were declining due to contaminants such as DDT
(Newton 1979, in Newton 2017, p. 101).
    The final recovery plan for the Hawaiian hawk was published in
1984, 17 years after listing (USFWS 1984, entire). Between 1967 (the
year the Hawaiian hawk was listed as endangered) and 1984, substantial
research was conducted on the life history, behavior, and habitat
requirements of Hawaiian hawks (USFWS 1984, p. 24). The recovery plan
notes that the results from the research studies conducted on Hawaiian
hawks between 1967 and 1984 were used to develop the recovery
recommendations, many of which had already been implemented and
completed (USFWS 1984, p. 1). Field biologists had already documented
Hawaiian hawk abundance and distribution, and had assessed several
factors that were thought to be limiting Hawaiian hawk population
abundance (i.e., illegal shooting, habitat loss and degradation), all
of which are recovery criteria to downlist the Hawaiian hawk from
endangered status to threatened status, as outlined under Recovery Plan
Implementation, below.
    The Hawaiian hawk population in 1983 was estimated to be between
1,400 and 2,500 birds, based on reproductive parameters, home range,
measures of forest and agricultural habitats, and distribution
information collected during island-wide forest bird surveys that
included hawk sightings and audio detections (Griffin 1985, p. 25;
Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 165). Hawaiian hawks were distributed across
the island of Hawaii and occupied virtually all forest types, native
and nonnative, except for the extremely arid parts of the island (e.g.,
grasslands of the northwest part of the island and Kau desert) (Scott
et al. 1986, pp. 78-79). A subsequent 1989 publication provided an
updated population estimate of 2,700 Hawaiian hawks containing 900
breeding pairs (Griffin 1989, p. 160). These population and
distribution data indicated that Hawaiian hawks were more common than
previously thought (Griffin 1985, entire; Scott et al. 1986, entire;
Griffin 1989, entire; USFWS 1984, p. 8).
    The primary recovery objective of the Hawaiian hawk recovery plan
is to ``ensure a self-sustaining Hawaiian hawk population in the range
of 1,500 to 2,500 adult birds in the wild, as distributed in 1983, and
maintained in stable, secure habitat'' (USFWS 1984, p. 25). No
explanation for the recovery goal of 1,500 to 2,500 birds is provided
in the recovery plan, but these numbers are presumably based on the
earliest population estimate (Griffin 1985, entire). A population
abundance between 1,400 and 2,500 hawks was considered sufficient to
maintain a self-sustaining wild Hawaiian hawk population (USFWS 1984,
p. 24). The plan also states that ``for the purposes of tracking the
progress of recovery, 2,000 will be used as a target to reclassify to
threatened status,'' and that ``criteria for complete delisting will be
further developed'' (USFWS 1984, p. 25). The recovery plan was never
updated to include criteria for delisting the Hawaiian hawk.
    In 1997, the Service formed the IRWG, the mission of which was to
provide advice on aspects of the recovery of the Hawaiian hawk. The
IRWG included scientific experts from universities and the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS), and a Service biologist. Following its first
meeting in December 1997, the IRWG forwarded a report to the Service,
in which they recommended that, rather than focusing primarily on
abundance to assess the Hawaiian hawk's overall status, field studies
should look at hawk numbers in combination with trends
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(IRWG 1998, p. 4). The Service funded a detailed ecological and
demographic study of the Hawaiian hawk and island-wide survey in 1998-
1999 (Klavitter 2000, entire). Upon review of the 2000 study results
(Klavitter 2000, entire) and other existing information, the IRWG
recommended that the Hawaiian hawk be delisted due to the lack of
evidence of a decline in numbers, survival rates, or productivity, and
the lack of evidence of current substantial loss or degradation of
preferred nesting or foraging habitats (IRWG 2001, p. 3). The IRWG
identified nesting and foraging habitat loss as a potential significant
threat to the species and recommended that regular population and
habitat monitoring take place to assess factors that may produce future
declines (IRWG 2001, p. 2). The IRWG stopped meeting after submitting
their final recommendation to the Service (Nelson 2018, in litt.).
    The collective survey data, including rangewide population
estimates (Griffin 1985; Hall et al. 1997; Klavitter et al. 2003;
Gorresen et al. 2008) and demographic modeling (Klavitter et al. 2003),
indicate that the Hawaiian hawk population was, and continues to be,
stable; Hawaiian hawks use both native and nonnative habitats for
breeding and hunting; the species' range is not contracting; and there
is no evidence of threat from environmental contaminants.
Recovery Plan Implementation
    Our knowledge of the Hawaiian hawk has improved since it was listed
as endangered in 1967. Although contemporary population abundance
estimates may be lower than that of historical Hawaiian hawk population
abundance, and the Hawaiian hawk's current range may have contracted
from that of its historical range, there is no known existing data to
quantify such declines. Instead, data show that the Hawaiian hawk has
had a stable population that covers large areas on the island of Hawaii
in varying habitat types and elevations for at least the past 30 years.
The following criteria for downlisting the Hawaiian hawk have all been
met or exceeded as described in the recovery plan:
    (1) Determine present distribution and abundance of the Hawaiian
hawk on the island of Hawaii: As described above, the data collected
(Griffin 1985, entire; Griffin 1989, entire), Scott et al. (1986,
entire), Hall et al. (1997, entire), Klavitter et al. (2000, entire;
2003, entire), and Gorresen et al. (2008, entire) have determined the
present distribution and abundance of the Hawaiian hawk on the island
of Hawaii. We currently estimate that the Hawaiian hawk breeding range
(2,222 sq mi (5,755 sq km)) supports a population of approximately
3,000 Hawaiian hawks (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 1).
    (2) Determine Hawaiian hawk habitat requirements: Hawaiian hawks
are well distributed throughout forest and adjacent habitat on the
island of Hawaii (Griffin 1985, p. 70; Scott et al. 1986, p. 79; Hall
et al. 1997, entire; Klavitter 2000, pp. 13, 37; Klavitter 2003, pp.
165, 167, 169-172; Gorresen et al. 2008, pp. 25, 39). Hawaiian hawk
population density varies among habitat type and region. For example,
Hawaiian hawk densities in Kau and Hamakua regions were highest in the
native-exotic forest habitat, but in Kona, Hawaiian hawk density was
highest in mature native forests with grass understory, followed by
mature native forests, and then native-exotic (Gorresen et al. 2008, p.
47). While Hamakua and Kau had relatively high Hawaiian hawk densities
in orchard forests (0.78  0.27 and 0.58  0.27
hawks per square kilometer (km\2\)), respectively), Puna's highest
Hawaiian hawk density was in shrubland (0.40 + 0.12 hawks per km\2\)
(Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 47). Hawaiian hawks prefer forests that are
only modestly dense so that they have an accessible understory where
prey can be seen more easily (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 25).
    (3) Identify factors limiting the Hawaiian hawk population: No
factors are considered to be currently limiting the Hawaiian hawk
population (USFWS 1984, p. 8; IRWG 2001, pp. 1-4; Gorresen et al. 2008,
pp. 22-26). Factors that were considered as potential limiting factors
include: Loss of nesting and foraging habitat (e.g., canopy loss and
conversion of forest habitats to open grassland, logging, agriculture,
human population growth and associated urbanization), nonnative plants
(i.e., strawberry guava), effects due to climate change (e.g., drought
and hurricanes), ohia dieback, ROD), harassment and shooting,
predation, bird disease, and environmental contaminants.
    (4) Minimize or eliminate identified detrimental factors: Because
the Hawaiian hawk has had a stable population for at least 30 years,
and occupies both native and nonnative habitat, habitat loss and
degradation are not currently considered a threat to the survival of
Hawaiian hawks. Additionally, as noted in the document we published in
the Federal Register on October 30, 2018 (83 FR 54561), there are
ongoing and increasingly productive conservation actions, such as:
     Restoration and reforestation actions that have increased
the amount of habitat for the Hawaiian hawk (e.g., Hawaii Legacy
Reforestation initiative, Sustainable Hawaii Initiative, Hawaii Plant
Extinction Prevention Program, Hawaii Invasive Species Council, Hawaii
Rare Plant Program);
     The installation of ungulate exclusion fencing;
     Landowner partnerships (e.g., Three Mountain Alliance
Watershed Partnership (TMA), Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP), Mauna
Kea Watershed Alliance (MKWA));
     An increase in the amount of land set aside for
conservation in perpetuity (e.g., The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) Kona
Hema Preserve, Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) (both Hakalau and
Kona Units), and the addition of the Kahuku Unit at Hawaii Volcanoes
National Park (NP)).
    Additional activities implemented by the public and private
organizations and partnerships on the island of Hawaii include programs
that implement fencing inspections and necessary replacements, native
species surveys, greenhouse and native plant propagation, prevention of
the spread of ROD, and outreach. Hawaiian hawks benefit from native
forest protection and restoration because it provides breeding,
nesting, and foraging habitat. For more details regarding conservation
measures, please see the Factor A discussion, below.
    Research regarding the potential impacts of environmental
pollutants (e.g., heavy metals and pesticides) on Hawaiian hawk
reproductive success has been evaluated (USFWS 1984, p. 21; Spiers et
al. 2018, entire). In the early 1980s, abandoned Hawaiian hawk eggs and
dead hawks were tested for organochlorine compounds (e.g., DDT) and
heavy metals. None or only trace amounts of these contaminants were
found (USFWS 1984, p. 21). In 2015 and 2016, carcasses of Hawaiian
hawks were tested for both first and second generation anticoagulating
rodenticide exposure (Spiers et al. 2018, entire). Fifteen Hawaiian
hawk carcasses were tested. No detectable levels of first generation
anticoagulating rodenticides (FGARs) were found in liver, whole
carcass, or kidney tissue; however, detectable levels of second
generation anticoagulating rodenticides (SGARs) were found in either
the whole body, liver, or kidney tissue (or a combination of these
three) of all 15 Hawaiian hawk carcasses (Spiers et al. 2018, entire).
Four Hawaiian hawk carcasses had detectable levels of bromadiolone, 12
had detectable levels of brodifacoum, and 4 had detectable levels of
difethialone; one carcass had detectable levels of all three SGARs, and
5
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carcasses had detectable levels of two SGARs. The highest and second
highest residue values were for brodifacoum in Hawaiian hawk liver
samples (768 nanograms per gram (ng/g) (0.768 milligrams per kilogram
(mg/kg)) and 141 ng/g (0.141 mg/kg), respectively).
    Although research has not been conducted on Hawaiian hawks to
determine the specific effects of secondary poisoning resulting from
their consumption of rodents killed by rodenticides (e.g., zinc
phosphide, diphacinone, chlorophacinone, bromethalin, fumarin, FGARs,
and SCARs), elsewhere, owls fed rats killed with fumarin appear to be
unaffected (Mendenhall and Pank 1980, p. 313), and zinc phosphide is
considered relatively safe for non-target species due to its rapid
decomposition into harmless products (Hood 1972, p. 86; Gervais et al.
2011, in litt.). Multiple wild avian species exposed to both first and
second generation anticoagulating rodenticides did not test positive
for the more commonly used FGARs (warfarin, diphacinone, and
chlorophacinone); however, many tested positive for SGARs (brodifacoum,
bromadiolone, and difethialone), including various hawk species
(California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) 2013, pp. 10; 47).
Due to their lethal impact on non-target animals (either directly
(i.e., bleed to death) or indirectly (e.g., they get sick and
subsequently either get hit by a car or become an easier target for
depredation by other animals), SGARs were banned in the consumer market
in 2008, with an effective date of June 4, 2011 (EPA 2008, pp. 7-8, 12-
13, 26); however, they are still allowed for certain commercial uses in
specific quantities and designated areas (e.g., within and around
agricultural buildings). There are 73 products containing SGARs
(bromadiolone, brodifacoum, or difethialone) and 42 products containing
FGARs (warfarin, chlorophacinone, or diphacinone) registered for use in
Hawaii, and one product containing warfarin (National Pesticide
Information Retrieval System-State of Hawaii 2019, entire). In 2011,
the revised use law went into effect. Hawaiian hawks are likely to
benefit from the reduced risk of secondary poisoning because of
decreased use of SGARs. We believe the Hawaiian hawk population is
robust enough to maintain viability into the foreseeable future even if
some mortalities occur now or in the future resulting from SGARs,
because despite the broader use of SGARs before 2008, the Hawaiian hawk
population remained stable with approximately 3,000 individuals.
    The human population growth predictions for Hawaii County from 2010
to 2040 were projected to be 1.6 percent growth annually; however, the
annual average growth rate thus far (2010 through 2017) is just 1.1
percent (Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and
Tourism (DBEDT) 2018, in litt.). It is predicted to briefly increase to
1.3 percent in the early 2020s, but is then anticipated to remain at
1.0 to 1.1 percent through 2045 (DBEDT 2018, p. 2). Further, new
housing subdivisions within known Hawaiian hawk habitat on the island
of Hawaii tapered off around 2011, with little to no change through
2018 (Amidon 2019, unpublished data). Additionally, the logging
industry has adopted harvesting practices that avoid clear cutting and
maintain continuous habitat (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.). Further,
although ohia dieback still exists, and we recognize that ROD is a
threat to ohia forests, there is no evidence that either has altered
the Hawaiian hawk's population abundance or its life-history needs.
    Nonnative plants, such as strawberry guava, are not anticipated to
alter Hawaiian hawk population abundance in the foreseeable future;
however, we recognize that monostands of guava are not conducive to
Hawaiian hawk foraging. With warming of the atmosphere due to climate
change, the range of strawberry guava may shift to higher elevations
and negatively impact Hawaiian hawks (Vorsino et al. 2014, p. 2). Our
preliminary PVA indicates that if not abated, strawberry guava may
impact Hawaiian hawk distribution in 30 or more years (Vorsino and
Nelson 2016, unpublished data). However, since the successful
deployment in 2012 of a biocontrol agent for strawberry guava (the
Brazilian scale insect, Tectococcus ovatus) in two demonstration plots
on the island of Hawaii (Chaney and Johnson in HCC 2013, p. 74), the
State of Hawaii and other partners have been working to establish
Tectococcus ovatus in strawberry guava-invaded forests throughout the
islands (Chaney and Johnson 2018, in litt.; Kerr 2018, pers. comm.).
Tectococcus ovatus is a highly host-specific, leaf-galling insect. By
2017, these efforts have resulted in established, self-reproducing
insect populations on strawberry guava at multiple forest sites on five
islands (Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, and Oahu) (Chaney and Johnson
2018, in litt.). Under favorable conditions, Tectococcus ovatus
populations have increased rapidly and spread within 33 to 262 ft (10
to 80 m) from site of application in a period of several months (Chaney
and Johnson 2018, in litt.). Tectococcus ovatus typically weakens the
trees through its feeding, reducing the ability of the tree to fruit
and set seed, thereby limiting its spread (U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
2016, in litt.). Tectococcus ovatus is not expected to kill already
established trees (Hawaii Department of Agriculture 2011, in litt.).
Galling at the Waiakea site (on Hawaii island) has increased to a level
that is beginning to reduce strawberry guava fruiting, although full
impacts are not yet apparent. It is too early to know what effect this
may have on guava tree vigor and rate of spread; however, infestations
of Tectococcus ovatus are expected to spread gradually on the target
plant, reaching damaging levels within a few years at each release site
(Kerr 2018, pers. comm.). The USFS will continue to provide technical
assistance and monitor the impacts of this biocontrol agent. It is
expected that a noticeable decrease in the spread of strawberry guava
will be observed over a period of years (Kerr 2018, pers. comm.). At
this time, impacts from strawberry guava have not been shown to alter
Hawaiian hawk population abundance or any stage of the species' life
history.
    Harassment and shooting do unfortunately occur. According to our
Office of Law Enforcement's records, there have been seven documented
cases that involve Hawaiian hawk gunshot wounds between 2013 and 2018.
Four of these occurred in 2018.
    However, shooting is not considered a significant threat because
Hawaiian hawks have maintained a population of approximately 3,000
individuals over several decades and are revered in Hawaiian culture as
an aumakua or familial guardian spirit. Additionally, the public has
shown much support for keeping Hawaiian hawks on the State list of
endangered and threatened species.
    Shooting of Hawaiian hawks is not a new threat, and despite its
occurrence over time, the Hawaiian hawk population has maintained a
stable population. On the effective date of this rule (see DATES,
above), shooting of Hawaiian hawks will remain illegal under both the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703-712) and Hawaii State
law.
    Predation has not been shown to impact the Hawaiian hawk at any
life stage. Most of the nonnative species in Hawaii that are considered
predators are actually prey to Hawaiian hawks (e.g., rats, mice,
mongooses). Cats are an exception; however, cats have not been shown to
be a limiting factor of
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Hawaiian hawk abundance and survival. Lastly, bird disease (i.e., avian
pox and avian malaria) and environmental contaminants are not known to
negatively impact the Hawaiian hawk. If West Nile virus appears on
Hawaii, however, relisting the Hawaiian hawk may be warranted (for more
information, see our Factor C discussion, below).
    (5) Monitor Hawaiian hawk population status: Monitoring of Hawaiian
hawk population status occurred intermittently from the late 1960s
through 2008.
    (6) Develop and implement a public information program to inform
public agencies and private citizens about the Hawaiian hawk:
Collaborative outreach was conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s
by the Service, State, University of Hawaii College of Tropical
Agriculture and Human Resources, local businesses, and nongovernmental
organizations, including, but not limited to, the Conservation Council
of Hawaii. Colorful brochures and posters were distributed to the
public and schools. In 1982, every school in the State received
Hawaiian hawk posters for National Wildlife Week. Also during this
time, several news articles on the Hawaiian hawk appeared in local
newspapers. In the 1990s, the Peregrine Fund (Fund) had an un-
releasable, rehabilitated Hawaiian hawk that was blinded by an injury.
The Fund used that hawk for public outreach events and took it to
schools. The Panaewa Zoo on the island of Hawaii, near Hilo, has a
permanent resident Hawaiian hawk on public display that is used for
educational purposes; this zoo also works closely with permitted
Hawaiian hawk rehabilitators. The Hawaii Wildlife Center and Three Ring
Ranch both rehabilitate injured Hawaiian hawks and conduct public
educational programs. Additionally, there is a Hawaiian hawk pair at
Sia, The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative, a permitted
Native American raptor aviary in Oklahoma (Volker 2018, pers. comm.).
These 21-year-old Hawaiian hawks are used by Sia for educational
purposes (Volker 2018, pers. comm.).
    (7) Determine appropriate status of this species and downlist or
delist: The IRWG, Service, and all three peer reviewers concur that
delisting is the appropriate status for Hawaiian hawks. We have
considered each of the five factors, and we have determined that the
Hawaiian hawk is not currently at risk of extinction throughout all or
a significant portion of its range (i.e., endangered), nor is it likely
to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future (i.e.,
threatened). If post-delisting monitoring shows a significant decline
in Hawaiian hawk population abundance or detects that the habitat
quality or quantity is being altered or destroyed such that it does not
or will not properly support a self-sustaining, viable Hawaiian hawk
population, a relisting may be warranted.
Summary of Factors Affecting the Species
    Section 4 of the Act and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part
424) set forth the procedures for listing species, reclassifying
species, or removing species from listed status. ``Species'' is defined
by the Act as including any species or subspecies of fish or wildlife
or plants, and any distinct vertebrate population segment of fish or
wildlife that interbreeds when mature (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). Once the
``species'' is determined, we then evaluate whether that species may be
endangered or threatened because of one or more of the five factors
described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. We must consider these same
five factors in delisting a species. We may delist a species according
to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best available scientific and commercial
data indicate that the species is neither endangered nor threatened for
the following reasons: (1) The species is extinct; (2) the species has
recovered and is no longer endangered or threatened; and/or (3) the
original scientific data used at the time the species was classified
were in error.
    A recovered species is one that no longer meets the Act's
definition of an endangered or threatened species. Determining whether
a species is recovered requires consideration of the same five
statutory factors specified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. For species
that are already listed as an endangered or threatened species, this
analysis is an evaluation of both the threats currently facing the
species and the threats that are reasonably likely to affect the
species in the foreseeable future, as well as any conservation actions
or regulations that ameliorate those threats.
    A species is ``endangered'' for purposes of the Act if it is in
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its
range, and is ``threatened'' if it is likely to become endangered
within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion
of its range.
    Following this 5-factor analysis we evaluated the status of the
Hawaiian hawk.
A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment
of Its Habitat or Range
    The 1993 proposed rule to reclassify the Hawaiian hawk from
endangered to threatened (58 FR 41684; August 5, 1993), the 2001 IRWG
report (IRWG 2001, p. 3), Klavitter et al. (2003, p. 173), and Gorresen
et al. (2008, pp. 9-11) all identified loss of preferred nesting and
foraging habitats as a potential threat to the Hawaiian hawk. Although
their specific concerns were variously stated, the causes all fit into
one of the following categories: (1) Urbanization/lack of secure
habitat; (2) conversion of sugarcane fields to unsuitable habitat; (3)
increase in fire frequency; (4) invasion of plant species in the
understory that degrade foraging habitat by concealing prey; and (5)
environmental fluctuations. Below, we address the first four of these
specific threats to Hawaiian hawk habitat. We discuss environmental
fluctuations under Factor E.
Urbanization/Lack of Secure Habitat
    The Hawaiian hawk is broadly distributed on the island of Hawaii,
and 58.7 percent of the island (2,372 sq mi (6,144 sq km)) contains
habitat for the hawk. Of this habitat, 55 percent is zoned for
agriculture, and 44.7 percent is zoned for conservation. Approximately
754 sq mi (1,953 sq km), or 32 percent, of the Hawaiian hawk's habitat
is located on protected lands in the form of State and Federal forests,
parks, and refuges, and less than 1 percent is rural or urban-zoned
land that has the potential to be impacted by or subjected to future
development (Klavitter 2000, p. 38; Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 170;
State of Hawaii 2007, in litt.).
    The amount of urban land or land subject to potential future
urbanization is generally localized in areas surrounding existing
cities (County of Hawaii 2005a as amended 2014, pp. 14-2, 14-9, 14-11--
Land Use Pattern Allocation Guide Map (LUPAG) 1-25), and represents
less than 1 percent of Hawaiian hawk habitat on the island. Changes in
zoning from one category to another (e.g., agricultural to urban) are
made through petitions to the State Land Use Commission. There are
currently no pending petitions that would change current agriculture,
conservation, or rural zones to urban on the island of Hawaii (State of
Hawaii Land Use Commission 2018, in litt.). Similarly, no amendments
are currently proposed to the County of Hawaii General Plan (2005a, as
amended, entire) that would reflect projected
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future urban growth beyond what was projected in the original 2005
plan. Additionally, because the Hawaiian hawk is broadly distributed on
the island and can use a variety of habitats, the potential future
conversion of a relatively small amount of its habitat (less than 1
percent) surrounding existing urban uses is not a threat to the
viability of the species.
    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. Previously, in 2012, the Hawaii DBEDT projected the
population of Hawaii County to grow 1.6 percent annually from 2010 to
2040, a 32 percent population increase over 20 years (DBEDT 2012, pp.
1-2). However, the actual population growth for Hawaii County between
2010 and 2017 was only 1.1 percent annually (DBEDT 2018, in litt.). A
brief increase to 1.3 is anticipated in the early 2020s; however, the
population growth is predicted to remain between 1.0 and 1.1 percent
from 2018 through 2045 (DBEDT 2018, p. 2). 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). By 2014, there were approximately 85,173
housing units on the island of Hawaii, with 4,811 building permits
issued, the highest level since 2006 (County of Hawaii 2015, p. 144).
Of the 4,811 building permits, 958 were private housing, with the
remaining going to nonresidential, additions, and alterations (County
of Hawaii 2015, pp. 145-146). Between 2000 and 2008, the number of new
single family homes on the island of Hawaii built per year oscillated
between 1,000 and 2,700 new homes (County of Hawaii 2015, p. 146). This
range dropped between 2009 and 2013, oscillating between 580 and 700
new homes built per year (County of Hawaii 2015, p. 146). Hilo and
Kailua-Kona remain the areas with the most development (County of
Hawaii 2015, p. 150). 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 (County of Hawaii 2010, tables 16.1-16.13; County of
Hawaii 2015, pp. 144-146, 149-150; DBEDT 2018, in litt.; DBEDT 2018,
pp. 2-3).
    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, unpublished data). Over this time period, the number of
land parcels less than 1 acre (ac) (0.4 hectare (ha)) in size increased
almost three-fold from 25,925 to 74,620 parcels. This equates to an
approximate three-fold increase in the land area for parcels of this
size, from 7,680 ac (3,107 ha or 12 square miles (sq mi) (31 square
kilometers (sq km)) to 24,458 ac (9,897 ha or 38 sq mi (100 sq km)) and
is equal to approximately 1.7 percent of the hawk's current range.
Overall, the largest increase in subdivisions occurred in the Puna
region. Parcels of 1 ac 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 2005b, p. 10-2).
    In response to several comments made during the fourth reopened
comment period (83 FR 54561; October 30, 2018), we expanded upon Nelson
and Metevier's (2010, unpublished data) analysis. Amidon (2019,
unpublished data) found that the number of 1 ac or smaller parcels on
the island of Hawaii increased by 2,000 parcels between 2009 to 2011,
but then leveled off to approximately 69,000 parcels of that size from
2011 to 2018. The overall decrease in parcels of this size is due to
landowners merging smaller parcels into larger parcels. Subdivision of
large land parcels in to smaller parcels is often viewed as synonymous
with development. With a plateau, if not decline, in both human
population growth and parcel splitting, we do not see a huge push for
development on Hawaii island nor find development on Hawaii island an
imminent threat to Hawaiian hawk habitat, now or in the foreseeable
future.
    Although trends in urban and exurban growth show upward movement,
the rate of growth has slowed, and trends in subdivisions have
plateaued. The human population annual growth rate on the island has
also decreased. Most urban and exurban growth is occurring in or
adjacent to already developed areas. The rates of subdivision,
development, and human population growth in the Puna region may slow
even more due to the scope of impacts to the area resulting from
Kilauea's 2018 eruption (USGS 2019, in litt.).
Conversion of Sugarcane Fields to Unsuitable Habitat
    Sugarcane was historically an important crop on the island of
Hawaii, and Hawaiian hawks have adapted to use these croplands for
foraging where nest trees and perching structures were available. With
the demise of the sugarcane industry on the island in the 1990s,
sugarcane plantations were primarily converted to a diversity of
agricultural uses (County of Hawaii 2005a, as amended 2014, pp. 1-8, 1-
11), some of which (e.g., large, patchily distributed monocultures of
eucalyptus or macadamia nut trees with little edge) are not compatible
with Hawaiian hawk nesting or foraging (Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 172).
We anticipate that in these localized, patchily distributed areas where
eucalyptus plantations are established, Hawaiian hawks will not be able
to effectively forage or nest. It remains unclear if hawks will use
these areas immediately following a harvest or at the time of initial
planting. However, given the short-rotation times planned for these
plantations (5 to 8 years) and the rapid growth-rate of eucalyptus on
Hawaii (Whitesell et al. 1992, pp. ii, 2), these areas might be
suitable only briefly for hawk foraging.
    Conversion of agricultural lands to eucalyptus forests is an
ongoing threat to the Hawaiian hawk, but the scope of this threat is
limited primarily to the Hamakua coastline (County of Hawaii 2005a, as
amended 2014, p. 14-20). These eucalyptus monocultures are patchily
distributed, with mixed agricultural and residential uses in the
surrounding areas. Approximately 24,000 ac (9,712 ha) (less than 2
percent of Hawaiian hawk habitat island-wide) of former sugarcane
fields were being cultivated for eucalyptus production and ``thousands
of additional acres'' were being planned as of 2005 (County of Hawaii
2005a, as amended 2014, pp. 2-4, 2-20). More recently, the forest
industry is shifting away from nonnative tree species to native tree
species such as koa (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.). However, even if
all 80,000 ac (32,375 ha) of the potential lands for cultivating
forests in the Hamakua coast were converted to eucalyptus trees (County
of Hawaii 2005a, as amended 2014, p. 14-20) in the foreseeable future,
that would
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represent less than 5 percent of Hawaiian hawk habitat island-wide. For
comparison, the Hamakua District contains 235,212 ac (95,187 ha) (59
percent) of lands designated for conservation thus far and in the
foreseeable future (County of Hawaii 2005a, as amended 2014, p. 14-11).
The amount of forested area on the island of Hawaii has increased in
recent years due to restoration, conservation, and a shift in forestry
practices toward native trees and more sustainable harvesting methods
(Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.).
    At a regional scale, we do not anticipate significant changes in
hawk densities in response to this threat because many of the
plantations are patchily distributed among areas with suitable habitat
for foraging, perching, and nesting (e.g., small agricultural
operations, fallow sugarcane fields, riparian areas, and native and
nonnative forest). The total amount of habitat converted (24,000 ac
(9,712 ha)) represents less than 2 percent of all available habitat
(Klavitter et al. 2003, p. 167). Furthermore, the amount of native
forest areas on the island of Hawaii is actually increasing (Koch and
Walter 2018, in litt.). Therefore, while conversion of sugarcane fields
has reduced the total amount of suitable habitat along the Hamakua
coast, the conservation actions across the island have increased
suitable habitat (see ``Urbanization/Lack of Secure Habitat,'' above).
Additionally, the scope and extent of this conversion is not likely to
significantly impact the distribution or density of the Hawaiian hawk
in such a way that would affect its viability.
    Another potential threat is the conversion of current agricultural
lands to crops for biodiesel fuel production (Gorresen et al. 2008, p.
10). Up to 185,000 ac (74,000 ha) of agricultural lands on the island
of Hawaii would be suitable for such crop production (Poteet 2006, pp.
27-28), which represents up to 13 percent of the Hawaiian hawk's
breeding range (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 10). Some of the potential
crops for renewable energy include sunflowers (herb) and Jatropha
curcas (large shrub to small trees) from which oils are extracted.
However, only a small fraction of the total acreage potentially usable
for biofuels has supported biofuel crop production, most of which has
been phased out (Pacific Biodiesel 2013, in litt.; Tummons 2013, pp. 1-
2; Long 2018, pers. comm.). Additionally, the potential biofuel crops
vary in terms of their feasibility and potential impacts to the
Hawaiian hawk. Some biofuel crops will continue to provide suitable
foraging areas while others may not. Further, all of the areas
identified as potential sites for biofuel production are either fallow
sugarcane fields or are currently being used for crop production,
grazing, or forestry production (e.g., eucalyptus) (Poteet 2006, pp.
27-28).
    The U.S. Navy and University of Hawaii's Natural Energy Institute
partnered around 2014 to explore the production and use of biofuels on
the island of Hawaii through the Hawaii Military Biofuels Crop
Assessment Program (Rivertop Solutions and Pacific Biodiesel
Technologies 2015, entire); however, they have not since shown interest
in further pursuit (Long 2018, pers. comm.). Additionally, as of 2018,
there remains only one biodiesel plant on the island of Hawaii (Pacific
Biodiesel Technologies), and the company has no plans to acquire or
lease additional agriculture lands at this time (Long 2018, pers.
comm.). The industry operations have diversified and now include
processing imperfect macadamia nuts for oil used in cosmetics (Long
2018, pers. comm.). There are currently no farms dedicated solely to
biofuel production on the island of Hawaii (Long 2018, pers. comm.). In
2008, there was one small (approximately 750 ac) family-owned farm that
grew Jatropha curcas on 250 ac for the purpose of biofuel (Gima 2010,
in litt.; Long 2018, pers. comm.); however, the Jatropha curcas
production was phased out, and Pacific Biodiesel has since purchased
the farm and now grows papaya on it (Long 2018, pers. comm.).
Conversion of current agricultural lands to crops for biodiesel fuel
production is not a threat to Hawaiian hawk habitat at this time, nor
is it likely to become a threat in the foreseeable future.
Invasive Plant Species, Drought, and Increase in Fire Frequency
    Historically, fires on the island of Hawaii were infrequent (Smith
and Tunison 1992, pp. 395-397). In some areas, primarily mesic and dry
habitats, the fire regime has changed dramatically with an accumulation
of fine fuels, primarily alien grasses, which spread in the 1960s and
1970s (Smith and Tunison 1992, pp. 397-398). Increased fire frequency
facilitates the spread of alien grass, which increases fine fuel loads,
further increasing the likelihood of more frequent and larger fires
(Smith and Tunison 1992, pp. 398-399). This positive feedback loop can
inhibit the establishment of tree species if fires are too frequent
(Smith and Tunison 1992, p. 399).
    Because Hawaiian hawks rely on forests for nesting and perching,
loss of these structural components would result in the loss of
habitat. Approximately 26 percent (370,658 ac (150,000 ha)) of the
Hawaiian hawk's breeding range is within mesic to dry forest habitat
areas that are particularly susceptible to fire (Gorresen et al. 2008,
p. 11). The average size of 58 fires that burned in Volcanoes NP from
1968 to 1991 was 507 ac (205 ha) (Smith and Tunison 1992, p. 398). This
is roughly the size of the average home range of the Hawaiian hawk
(Griffin 1985, p. 173). Therefore, large fires could remove habitat in
one or a few hawk territories at one time, but we expect that hawks
would maintain their territory if sufficient prey and forest structure
remained such that they could still hunt, nest, and perch. At a
regional scale and in the foreseeable future, we do not anticipate
significant changes in hawk densities in response to this threat
because most fires are expected to have a patchy distribution on the
landscape such that some forest structure will continue to be present
around or within these burned areas (Perry et al. 2011, p. 704; Bond
and Keane 2017, p. 6; Pyne 2010, p. 4).
    Only if large-scale changes to dry forests occurred, eliminating
nesting and perching areas across large swaths of the leeward portion
of the island, would the viability of the species potentially be at
risk. Hawaii has experienced extreme droughts for extended time periods
of time (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2011,
in litt., p. 9; U.S. Drought Monitor 2011, in litt.; U.S. Drought
Monitor-Hawaii Data 2019, entire), which exacerbate the risk of fire;
however, the Hawaiian hawk population has remained stable and viable.
    The available information on Hawaiian hawk distribution and habitat
does not suggest that dry forests on the island of Hawaii are losing
trees essential for Hawaiian hawk nesting and perching, or that such
loss is likely to occur in the foreseeable future (e.g., Puu Waawaa
watershed, see ``Urbanization/Lack of Secure Habitat,'' above).
Although drought frequency and duration may increase in Hawaii due to
climate change (Chu et al. 2010, p. 4897; Diaz and Giambelluca 2011, p.
7; Timm et al. 2015, p. 92), the combination of the Hawaiian hawk's
demonstrated adaptability with an increase in habitat restoration
efforts (e.g., Puuwaawaa Forest Reserve, Puuwaawaa Forest Bird
Sanctuary, TMA, TNC's Kona Hema Preserve) leads us to conclude that
Hawaiian hawks will remain stable and viable for the foreseeable
future.
[[Page 174]]
    Therefore, while an increase in fire frequency due to alien plants
and drought may reduce the amount of available habitat for nesting and
perching, even when we consider increased drought frequency and
duration due to climate change (for which models are highly variable
and associated with uncertainty (Gregg 2018, p. 21)), we conclude that
the maximum scope and extent of this habitat alteration that we can
reasonably anticipate is not likely to have a significant impact on the
distribution or density of the Hawaiian hawk in such a way that would
affect its viability in the foreseeable future.
Environmental Changes in Response to Climate Change
    The ongoing and projected changes in climate, and the impacts of
global climate change and increasing temperatures on Hawaii ecosystems,
are the subjects of active research. Analysis of the historical record
indicates the surface temperature in Hawaii has been increasing since
the early 1900s, with relatively rapid warming over the past 30 years.
The average increase since 1975 has been 0.48 degrees Fahrenheit
([deg]F) (0.27 degrees Celsius ([deg]C)) per decade for annual mean
temperature at elevations above 2,600 ft (800 m) and 0.16 [deg]F (0.09
[deg]C) per decade for elevations below 2,600 ft (800 m) (Giambelluca
et al. 2008, pp. 3-4). Based on models using climate data downscaled
for Hawaii, the ambient temperature is projected to increase by 3.8 to
7.7 [deg]F (2.1 to 4.3 [deg]C) over the 21st century, depending on
elevation and which of the four Representative Concentration Pathway
(RCP) emissions scenarios (RCP 2.6, 4.5, 6, and 8.5) are considered
(Liao et al. 2015, p. 4344; van Vuuren et al. 2011, p.5;
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014, p. 8). Environmental
conditions in tropical montane habitats can be strongly influenced by
changes in sea surface temperature and atmospheric dynamics (Loope and
Giambelluca 1998, pp. 504-505; Pounds et al. 1999, pp. 611-612; Still
et al. 1999, p. 610; Benning et al. 2002, pp. 14,246-14,248;
Giambelluca and Luke 2007, pp. 13-15). On the main Hawaiian Islands,
predicted changes associated with increases in temperature include a
shift in vegetation zones upslope, a similar shift in animal species'
ranges, changes in mean precipitation with unpredictable effects on
local environments, increased occurrence of drought cycles, and
increases in intensity and numbers of hurricanes (tropical cyclones
with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher) (Loope and Giambelluca 1998,
pp. 514-515; Vecchi and Soden 2007, pp. 1068-1069, Figures 2 and 3;
U.S. Global Change Research Program (US-GCRP) 2009, pp. 10, 12, 17-18,
32-33; Emanuel et al. 2008, p. 360, Figure 8; Yu et al. 2010, p. 1371,
Figure 14; Giambelluca 2013, p. 6).
    Since 1871, eight hurricanes, or remnants thereof, have caused
substantial damage in Hawaii. The island of Hawaii, like the island
chain, has fortunately evaded most hurricanes due to the surrounding
cool water. In response to climate change, such environmental
conditions are changing. With a projected shift in the path of the
subtropical jet stream northward, away from Hawaii, more storms will be
able to approach and reach the Hawaiian Islands from an easterly
direction, with Hurricane Iselle in 2014 being an example (Murakami et
al. 2013, p. 751). Although Hurricane Iselle morphed into a tropical
storm before making landfall on the island, it caused extensive canopy
loss in some regions of the island (Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) 2014, in litt.). Hurricane or tropical storm Iselle is the
strongest tropical storm to make landfall on the island of Hawaii in
recorded history. Subsequently, in 2016, Hurricane Darby made landfall
on the island of Hawaii but as a much weaker tropical storm.
    Although changes in environmental conditions are anticipated in
response to climate change, the cumulative data suggests the Hawaiian
hawk will likely be able to adapt to these changes and that the range
of the Hawaiian hawk, which spans much of the island of Hawaii, will
provide the species with the redundancy and resiliency necessary to
maintain viability under such a stochastic or catastrophic event. In
addition, Hawaiian hawks have demonstrated the ability to maintain a
viable, steady population through prolonged periods of drought
(Gorresen et al. 2008, entire; U.S. Drought Monitor-Hawaii Data 2019,
entire), the introduction of nonnative plants and animals, changes in
forest species composition, changes in prey species, and ongoing human
development and agricultural practices (Gorresen et al. 2008). We
acknowledge that there may be unanticipated impacts on the Hawaiian
hawk associated with climate change; however, as outlined in our Post
Delisting Monitoring Plan, we will be monitoring the Hawaiian hawk and
its habitat for five 5-years cycles, which will begin in 2024. If post-
delisting monitoring detects a significant decline in the Hawaiian hawk
population, or a significant change in habitat so that it would not
support a self-sustaining Hawaiian hawk population, relisting may be
warranted. For additional discussion, see Future Conservation Measures,
below.
Invasive Species (Nonnative Feral Ungulates)
    Feral ungulates, particularly pigs, goats, and feral cattle,
degrade ohia and other forest habitats by spreading nonnative plant
seeds, grazing and trampling native vegetation, and contributing to
erosion (Cuddihy and Stone 1990, pp. 59-67, 74; Vitousek et al. 1997,
p. 6). An increase in conservation measures across the island of Hawaii
(see below and Recovery Plan Implementation, above), which include
feral pig and other ungulate control and removal, benefit the Hawaiian
hawks by decreasing the spread of nonnative plants reducing erosion.
Because of the ongoing conservation measures, and the fact that
Hawaiian hawks nest and hunt in a variety of native and nonnative
habitats, we do not consider impacts from ungulates a population-level
threat to the species.
Invasive Species (Concealing Prey)
    Vegetative cover can be more important than prey abundance in the
selection of hunting sites by raptors (Bechard 1982, p. 158). The
Hawaiian hawk typically uses still-hunting to capture prey by perching
in trees or other vegetation (Griffin 1985, p. 162; Clarkson and
Laniawe 2000, p. 3). Hunting is thought to be inhibited in areas with
close-standing trees that limit the Hawaiian hawk's ability to maneuver
in flight and areas where there is dense understory where prey can
hide. In addition, tree monocultures may not provide sufficient
structural complexity and plant species diversity to support adequate
prey abundances (Felton et al. 2016, p. S128). However, exotic tree,
shrub, and grass habitats had similar hawk densities to some native
habitats (e.g., mature native forest), but were lower than densities
recorded in native forests with an understory of grass (Klavitter et
al. 2003, p. 169). The relationship between cover and demographic
variables is likely to be complex given that a Hawaiian hawk's home
range may span several habitat types and that the effect of various
invasive species on total vegetation cover has not been well studied.
    Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum), a small to medium-sized
tree native to Brazil, is considered a potential threat to Hawaiian
hawk habitat and the species' foraging abilities (State of Hawaii 2011,
p. 46; Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 24). Since its introduction in the
early 19th century,
[[Page 175]]
strawberry guava has expanded into most of the native lowland forests
of Hawaii, becoming the dominant species in these areas (State of
Hawaii 2011, pp. 2-4). Strawberry guava forms impenetrable stands of
close-standing trees to the exclusion of all native species up to
elevations of 2,100 ft (640 m) in some areas in the Hamakua region of
Hawaii and has begun to invade native forests on Hawaii to elevations
as high as 3,200 ft (975 m) (HDOA 2011, in litt.; USFS 2016, p. 2).
Land area covered by closed strawberry guava forest is 39.4 sq mi
(102.14 sq km) or 1.77 percent of the Hawaiian hawk's range (Gorresen
2008, unpublished data). Projected temperature and precipitation change
in Hawaii will facilitate the continued spread of strawberry guava from
its present distribution in low- and middle-elevation, wet and mesic
forests, into higher elevation montane forests dominated by native
species (Denslow 2008, p. 1). Based on predicted temperature and
precipitation changes over the next 100 years (State of Hawaii 2011, p.
4; McDermott 2009, p. 1; Price et al. 2009, slides 22 and 23),
strawberry guava could invade native forests on Hawaii to an elevation
of approximately 6,000 ft (1,828 m), encompassing virtually all current
middle- and high-elevation montane native forest with large ohia trees.
Our preliminary PVA indicates that if not abated, strawberry guava may
impact Hawaiian hawk distribution in 30 or more years (Vorsino and
Nelson 2016, unpublished data). However, as discussed below, there are
measures in place to slow, if not cease, the spread of strawberry guava
on Hawaii Island and across the State.
    As noted under Recovery Plan Implementation, above, a biocontrol
agent for strawberry guava was released in 2012, and the most recent
data (2018) shows the scale is spreading and beginning to weaken
strawberry guava trees by reducing fruiting. At this time, impacts from
strawberry guava have not been shown to alter the Hawaiian hawk's
population abundance or any stage of its life history. The best
available data indicate that, despite the introduction of a variety of
invasive plant species on the island of Hawaii, the population size and
distribution of the Hawaiian hawk has remained relatively unchanged for
the past 30 years.
Invasive Species (Nonnative Pathogens of Native Forest Pillar Species)
    Rapid ohia death (ROD), a fungal pathogen infecting ohia, one of
Hawaii's dominant forest trees, is currently spreading across the
State; ROD first appeared on the island of Hawaii around 2013
(University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human
Resources-Rapid Ohia Death 2019, entire). In 2018, ROD was detected on
the island of Kauai. ROD is caused by two species of Ceratocystis
fungi, C. huliohia and C. lukuohia, the latter being the more virulent
pathogen (Barnes et al. 2018, entire; University of Hawaii College of
Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources-Rapid Ohia Death 2019,
entire). With rapid spread and high stand mortality, all indications
thus far suggest that this particular ohia stressor could alone, or in
conjunction with other stressors, have far-reaching negative
consequences for ohia forests. Humans and the abundant wood boring
ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus spp.) are thought to be the two primary
vectors causing the rapid spread of ROD by inadvertently spreading
spores (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR)
2019, in litt.; University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture
and Human Resources-Rapid Ohia Death 2019, entire). Thousands, if not
tens-of-thousands, of ohia trees (135,000 ac (54,633 ha)) have been
infected with ROD in just the past few years, and openings in the tree
canopy in affected areas may encourage the spread of invasive,
nonnative plants, further contributing to ohia forest decline. Because
Hawaiian hawks occupy both native and nonnative habitats, and
reportedly do well in mixed-exotic forests (Berger 1981, p. 79; Griffin
1985, pp. 70-72), the impact of ROD on Hawaiian hawks is yet to be
determined. While we recognize that ROD is a severe threat to the
integrity of native ohia forests and species solely dependent on ohia
trees, because Hawaiian hawks do not solely depend on native forests
and are highly adaptable, it is reasonable to conclude that the
Hawaiian hawk will adapt to future changes in forest tree composition
and maintain its viability in the foreseeable future. Additionally,
habitat monitoring is included in the PDM plan.
    The primary factor behind ohia dieback is the species' trait of
experiencing synchronized generational turnover following senescence of
same-age trees (Mueller-Dombois 1985, p. 150; Akashi and Mueller-
Dombois 1995, pp. 449-450). Ohia dieback in itself does not appear to
be a significant threat in native forest areas; however, dieback events
in some cases may create conditions for nonnative plants to gain a
foothold in native forests. Because Hawaiian hawks have maintained a
stable population of approximately 3,000 individuals over decades,
despite the presence of ohia dieback, we do not consider ohia dieback a
threat to the survival of Hawaiian hawks.
    Ohia rust is a plant pathogen caused by the fungus species Puccinia
psidii, which affects hundreds of plants in the Myrtaceae family
including Eucalyptus spp., Melaleuca spp., and Hawaii's native ohia.
The strain of ohia rust currently present in Hawaii likely causes very
little impact to ohia trees. Risk to Hawaiian hawks, however, includes
the possibility of a more potent strain being introduced, and/or the
possibility of ohia rust acting in concert with other ohia stressors
such as drought, the effects of climate change, or ohia wilt to
compound cumulative effects resulting in overall ohia forest decline.
However, because Hawaiian hawks have maintained a stable population of
approximately 3,000 individuals over at least three decades, despite
the presence of ohia rust, we do not consider ohia rust a threat to the
survival of Hawaiian hawks.
Conservation Actions That Benefit the Hawaiian Hawk and its Habitat
    Since the Hawaiian hawk was listed as an endangered species (32 FR
4001; March 11, 1967), there has been a marked increase in protection
of native forests, lands set aside for conservation in perpetuity, and
ongoing on-the-ground conservation efforts. Cumulatively, these actions
have resulted in increased protection for the Hawaiian hawk by securing
potential nesting, breeding, and hunting habitat (Gorresen et al. 2008,
p. 26). Multiple landscape-scale conservation efforts are, or have
been, implemented across the island of Hawaii by Federal, State, and
private landowners, often in collaborative efforts. For example, in the
north Kona region, conservation actions (e.g., outplanting native
plants, nonnative species removal, and fencing) have been, and continue
to be, implemented by myriad partners in Waimea (8 ac (3.2 ha)), the
Lai Opua Dryland Preserve (70 ac (28 ha)), the Kaupulehu dryland forest
(76 ac (31 ha)), the Palamanui Dry Forest Preserve (72 ac (29 ha), and
the Puu Waawaa watershed (e.g., the multi-agency 38,885-ac (15,736-ha)
Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest, and the 3,800-ac (1,538-ha) forest
bird sanctuary) (Hawaii Forest Institute 2019, entire; Kaahahui O Ka
Nahelehe 2019, entire; U.S. Forest Service-Pacific Southwest Research
Station 2019, entire; DLNR 2003, p. 70).
    The 32,733-ac (13,247-ha) Hakalau Forest NWR (north Hilo region)
was
[[Page 176]]
established by the Service in 1985, with the primary purpose of
promoting the recovery of endangered forest birds and their habitat.
The 5,300-ac (2,145-ha) Kona Forest Unit was added to the Hakalau
Forest NWR in 1997. The Hakalau Forest NWR now provides 38,033 ac
(15,391 ha) of habitat for endangered forest birds and the Hawaiian
hawk, as well as numerous threatened and endangered plants, insects,
and the Hawaiian hoary bat (opeapea, Lasiurus cinereus semotus). In
2003, Hawaii Volcanoes NP, in collaboration with TNC, added the
115,828-ac (46,874-ha) Kahuku Unit (previously Kahuku Ranch),
increasing the park's size by 50 percent (Martin 2003, in litt.). The
Nature Conservancy also established the 8,089-ac (3,274-ha) Kona Hema
Preserve (south Kona region) between 1999 and 2003. Additionally, in a
collaborative effort, Hawaii DLNR's Division of Forestry and Wildlife
(DOFAW) and the USFS' Institute of Pacific Island Forestry established
the protected Laupahoehoe natural area reserve (12,300 ac (4,979 ha))
along the Hamakua Coast, which is part of the Hawaii Experimental
Tropical Forest Project (U.S. Forest Service 2018, in litt.).
    The KWP has been removing nonnative species (primarily plants,
rodents, and ungulates) and actively restoring forested watershed
habitat on the island of Hawaii since 2003. The MKWA and TMA have been
conducting similar work since 2008. Combined, these efforts have
improved over 19,000 ac (7,689 ha) of forested watershed habitat on the
island of Hawaii (DLNR 2011, p. 16). Collectively, these three
watershed partnerships encompass approximately 1,668,300 ac (675,137
ha) (Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships 2019, entire). The
TMA is the largest watershed partnership in Hawaii, encompassing 45
percent of the island of Hawaii. Within the land area covered by the
TMA lies some of the largest expanses of intact native forests
remaining in the islands, equating to approximately 50 percent of the
State's remaining native habitat (Hawaii Association of Watershed
Partnerships 2019, entire). The overall mission for all three of these
island of Hawaii-based watershed partnerships (32 partners in total) is
to increase the effective management and protection of upper elevation
watershed areas. The TMA's management goals for native forests damaged
by ungulate browsing and grazing 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,
identified priority watersheds and outlined on-the-ground actions and
projects required to sustain Hawaii's critical water sources (DLNR
2011, p. 1). At the time of inception, only 10 percent of the priority
watershed areas were protected; however, The Rain Follows the Forest
sought to double the amount of protected watershed areas, including
some areas on island of Hawaii, in just 10 years. This initiative has
been replaced by the Sustainable Hawaii Initiative discussed below.
    In response to the 2016 World Conservation Congress Legacy
Commitment, the Governor of Hawaii initiated the Sustainable Hawaii
Initiative: 30 by 30 Watershed Forests Target, which seeks to protect
30 percent (253,000 ac (102,385 ha)) of Hawaii's highest priority
watershed forests by 2030 (Sustainable Hawaii Initiative 2019, entire).
Building upon the conservation efforts conducted under The Rain Follows
the Forest, watershed efforts accelerated, and by 2017, approximately
15 percent of priority areas had a high level of protection
(Sustainable Hawaii Initiative 2019, entire); State of Hawaii 2017, in
litt.). This initiative includes, among other objectives, fencing
priority areas, control of ungulates and other invasive species,
planting native tree and shrub species, and limiting the spread of ROD.
    Forest restoration programs like the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation
Initiative, USDA's Forestry Program, and Hawaii's Forest Stewardship
Program also benefit the Hawaiian hawk 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. Many nonnative timber
plantations are switching to native timber species post-harvest (Koch
and Walter 2018, in litt.; Walter 2018, pers. comm.). Although
suitability of koa plantations for Hawaiian hawk foraging and nesting
has not been studied, and hawk use of these areas may be variable, koa
plantations may be suitable depending upon the age of koa stands, stand
density, and overstory characteristics related to harvest methods used.
More research is needed, as such characteristics of koa plantations
likely vary.
    Overall, State and private foresters report that the forested area
on the island of Hawaii is increasing, particularly in native forest
cover (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.). Starting at the turn of the
century, several large landowners (private, Federal, and State) ended
their pastoral leases and have been steadily promoting natural
regeneration to take the place of old pastures (Koch and Walter 2018,
in litt.). The State is moving away from planting exotic timber tree
species and toward native species when economically feasible (Koch and
Walter 2018, in litt.). Additionally, through the Hawaii Forest
Stewardship Program, small (e.g., 18 ac (7 ha)) private landowners are
working with the State to convert old pasture land to native forest
(DLNR 2017, in litt.).
    The ongoing conservation actions across the island of Hawaii
provide Hawaiian hawks potential breeding, nesting, and foraging
habitat. The above-mentioned actions highlight many of the landscape-
scale efforts underway that benefit Hawaiian hawks; however, there are
many more conservation efforts on the island (too numerous to list
here) that also contribute to the conservation of Hawaiian hawks.
Summary of Factor A
    A comparison of island-wide survey data in 2007 to similar data
from 1998 to 1999 indicates that the population numbers, densities, and
spatial distribution of Hawaiian hawks on the island of Hawaii did not
significantly change over the span of a decade. Also, the best
available data indicate that the population size and distribution of
the Hawaiian hawk remained relatively unchanged for 30 or more years
despite being exposed to myriad threats (Service 1984; Griffin 1985, p.
25; Scott et al. 1986, p. 79; Morrison et al. 1994, p. 23; Hall et al.
1997, pp. 13-14; Klavitter 2000, pp. 38, 96; Klavitter et al. 2003, p.
170; Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 6). Although new information shows some
potentially negative habitat trends due to urbanization, nonnative
plant species invasion, climate change, and ROD, there are myriad
conservation efforts and lands that have been set aside for
conservation in perpetuity that benefit the Hawaiian hawk by providing
potential breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat. Although some
habitat loss is expected in the future, this loss is likely to be a
small percentage of the Hawaiian hawk's habitat and is likely to be
patchily distributed such that hawks are expected to continue to be
widely distributed on Hawaii.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or
Educational Purposes
    Historically, some Hawaiian hawks were taken for scientific
collection (e.g., Henshaw 1902, pp. 197-198; Banko
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1980, p. 2) and may also have been taken by the early Hawaiians for
either food or feathers (Clarkson and Laniawe 2000, p. 12). Neither of
these factors is known to currently threaten the Hawaiian hawk.
    Shooting was considered among the primary factors contributing to a
suspected population decline of the Hawaiian hawk, but there has been
no data that would suggest that shooting was the primary factor for the
population decline (Berger 1981, p. 79; Griffin 1985, p. 108). People
shot Hawaiian hawks because they mistakenly believed that the hawks
were ``chicken hawks'' (note: In the past, a dead Hawaiian hawk (cause
of death unknown) was used as a ``scarecrow'' to discourage predation
on domestic poultry flocks sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s
(Banko 1980, p.6)).
    According to our Office of Law Enforcement's records, seven
Hawaiian hawks were shot between 2013 and 2018, most occurring in the
Puna region. Four of these cases occurred in 2018. Incidences of
Hawaiian hawk shootings have occurred for decades yet the Hawaiian hawk
population remained stable despite such incidences. There is little
evidence that shooting is a current threat to the Hawaiian hawk at a
regional scale. With increased community outreach regarding the
Hawaiian hawk's status on the island of Hawaii, there no longer appears
to be a substantive threat to the species from shooting (Mello 2007,
pers. comm.).
C. Disease or Predation
    Neither disease nor predation is currently known to substantively
affect the Hawaiian hawk population (Griffin 1985, pp. 104-107, 194;
Griffin et al. 1998, pp. 658, 661; Klavitter 2000, p. 45). Introduced
mammalian predators (i.e., rats, cats, and mongooses) could potentially
prey on Hawaiian hawks or their eggs and are known to have serious
impacts on other species of native Hawaiian birds (Atkinson 1977, pp.
120-122, 127-130; Scott et al. 1986, pp. 363-364; VanderWerf and Smith
2002, pp. 77-80). However, there is no evidence of predation by these
species on Hawaiian hawks or their eggs. There is evidence, on the
other hand, that introduced mammalian species are a food resource for
the hawk (Munro 1944, p. 48; Griffin 1985, pp. 142-145, Appendix 1;
Griffin et al. 1998, p. 659).
    Although the Hawaiian hawk population is not currently known to be
substantively affected by any diseases, there has been observation of
``pox-like'' lesions on 2 of 44 captured hawks (Griffin 1985, pp. 104-
105). No bacteriological or virological samples were collected;
therefore, these lesions were not confirmed as avian pox.
    Disease has been identified as a potential factor that might lead
to a decline in the size of the Hawaiian hawk population by reducing
future reproduction and survival. In their report (IRWG 2001, p. 3),
they state, ``disease could have a serious negative impact on [the]
Hawaiian hawk as the population does not appear to be separated into
disjunct subpopulations that could more easily evade an outbreak. The
panmictic nature of the population (i.e., a population where all
individuals are potential partners) may also limit genetic variability
that could contribute to pockets of disease resistance, although
genetic attributes have not been directly studied.''
    The Hawaiian hawk does not appear to be susceptible to diseases
currently established on the island of Hawaii, such as avian pox or
malaria, that have devastated many other endemic Hawaiian forest birds
(Griffin 1985, pp. 104-106; Griffin et al. 1998, pp. 658, 661).
    Emergent diseases, such as West Nile virus, have the potential to
influence Hawaiian hawk viability in the future, but we cannot predict
if or when that may occur. West Nile virus (WNV), which is primarily
transmitted by infected mosquitoes, has been reported in all of the 48
conterminous United States and is potentially fatal to many species of
birds, including members of the genus Buteo (Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) 2005, in litt.; 2007, in litt.).
Transmission of WNV to Hawaii could occur via the arrival of migrating
bird species; via transport of infected mosquitoes on boats and planes;
and through infected birds, animals, and humans.
    Through 2013, Hawaii and Alaska were the only two States with no
reported occurrences (human or bird) of WNV (State of Hawaii 2006, in
litt.; CDC 2007, in litt.; CDC 2017, in litt.; CDC 2019, in litt.). By
the end of 2014, the CDC received one human WNV disease case reported
by the State of Hawaii (CDC 2017, in litt.); however, this incidence
originated through exposure outside of the State, and there has not
been a subsequent report (State of Hawaii Department of Health 2018, in
litt.; CDC 2019, in litt.). Surveillance for WNV in Hawaii from 2002 to
2009, during which over 10,000 individual birds were tested, found no
infected birds.
    To help prevent WNV from spreading to Hawaii, the State's
Department of Agriculture has established a pre-arrival isolation
requirement and a Poultry and Bird Import Permit issued through the
Livestock Disease Control Branch for all birds entering the State.
Furthermore, the Hawaii State Department of Health has an ongoing,
multi-agency WNV surveillance program in place on all of the main
Hawaiian Islands, which involves surveillance for infected mosquitoes
and dead birds, as well as live-bird surveillance at major ports of
entry, equine surveillance, and human surveillance (State of Hawaii
2006, in litt.).
    To date, no cases of WNV have been reported in Hawaii; however,
there is currently no certainty that the disease can be prevented from
arriving and spreading. Should this disease arrive on the island of
Hawaii, native birds may be particularly susceptible, as they are
likely to be immunologically naive to arboviruses such as WNV, and
because they evolved in the absence of biting insects (van Riper et al.
1986, p. 340). Furthermore, there are a number of introduced birds
(e.g., house sparrows and house finches) and mosquitoes (e.g., Culex
quinquefasciatus) that could support WNV amplification in Hawaii and
transport it from low to middle to high elevations (Marra et al. 2004,
p. 398) throughout the range of the Hawaiian hawk. Nevertheless, the
short- and long-term impacts of WNV on wildlife are uncertain (Marra et
al. 2004, p. 394), and it is uncertain whether the virus will ever
arrive on the island of Hawaii. Since the arrival of WNV on the west
coast of the United States in 2002 it has not been detected in Hawaii,
which suggests Hawaii's isolation from areas where WNV is already
established may provide some level of protection to its introduction in
Hawaii.
    If WNV or another pathogenic avian disease for which mosquitos are
vectors reaches Hawaii, pig rooting will aid in the transmission of
disease. Rooting pigs create wallows and other optimal breeding sites
for mosquitoes that transmit bird disease. Although the Hawaiian hawk
does not appear to be affected by avian malaria or avian pox, should a
novel disease such as West Nile virus be introduced to Hawaii, risk of
disease spread would be enhanced in areas with feral pig activity.
Emerging technology may help to reduce mosquito abundance and thereby
also reducing the prevalence of the diseases the mosquitoes transmit.
An increase in conservation measures across the island of Hawaii (also
see Recovery Plan Implementation, above), which include feral pig
control and removal, benefit the Hawaiian hawk by decreasing the spread
of mosquito breeding habitat.
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Summary of Factor C
    Neither predation nor bird diseases currently established on Hawaii
are known to threaten the Hawaiian hawk. West Nile virus and other
emergent bird diseases have the potential to affect the species if they
become established on Hawaii. However, it is uncertain whether such
diseases will ever arrive. The State is currently implementing a
prevention program to reduce the risk of WNV arrival. The State is also
implementing a surveillance program so that it can detect the virus if
it arrives, and take appropriate and timely action.
D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms
    A variety of regulatory mechanisms, managed by State and Federal
resource agencies, are in place to protect the Hawaiian hawk and the
habitats upon which it depends. Although we are delisting the Hawaiian
hawk as of the effective date of this final rule (see DATES, above),
the Hawaiian hawk will still be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703-712). The MBTA and its implementing
regulations (50 CFR parts 20 and 21) prohibit take, possession, import,
export, transport, sale, purchase, barter, or offering for sale,
purchase, or barter, of any migratory bird, their eggs, parts, and
nests, except as authorized under a valid permit (50 CFR 21.11).
    The Hawaiian hawk and its habitat will continue to benefit from the
National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (Pub. L. 105-
57, October 9, 1997) that established the protection of biodiversity as
the primary purpose of the NWR System. This has led to various
management actions to benefit federally listed species, including
development of comprehensive conservation plans (CCPs) on NWRs. The
CCPs typically set goals and list needed actions to protect and enhance
populations of key wildlife species on NWR lands. Where Hawaiian hawks
occur on NWR lands (Hakalau Forest), their habitats in these areas are
protected from large-scale loss or degradation due to the Service's
mission ``to administer a national network of lands and waters for the
conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the
fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the
United States for the benefit of present and future generations of
Americans'' (16 U.S.C. 668dd(a)(2)).
    The Hawaiian hawk and its habitat will also continue to benefit
from the Hawaii National Park Act of 1916. Congress established Hawaii
National Park (later to become, separately, Hawaii Volcanoes National
Park and Haleakala National Park) on August 1, 1916 (39 Stat. 432),
``for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States''
(16 U.S.C. 391) and to provide for, ``the preservation from injury of
all timber, birds, mineral deposits, and natural curiosities or wonders
within said park, and their retention in their natural condition as
nearly as possible'' (16 U.S.C. 394). Since that time, the enabling
legislation of the park has been modified several times, both to
establish the national parks on the islands of Hawaii and Maui as
separate parks and to expand the boundary of Hawaii Volcanoes National
Park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park protects 330,086 ac (133,581 ha)
of public land on Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes on the southeastern
side of Hawaii Island (NPS 2017, p. 3).
    Although we are not aware of any intent to use Hawaiian hawks for
falconry, regulations at 50 CFR 21.29 and 21.30 specifically authorize
the issuance of permits to take, possess, transport, and engage in
commerce with raptors for falconry purposes and for propagation
purposes. Certain criteria must be met prior to issuance of these
permits, including a requirement that the issuance will not threaten a
wildlife population (50 CFR 13.21(b)(4)).
    Another regulatory mechanism that will continue to provide
protection to the Hawaiian hawk is the requirement that pesticides be
registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the
authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7
U.S.C. 136 et seq.), the Environmental Protection Agency requires
environmental testing of all new pesticides. Testing the effects of
pesticides on representative wildlife species prior to pesticide
registration is specifically required. Only pesticides that have been
determined not to pose unreasonable adverse effects on the environment
may be used in the United States. This protection from effects of
pesticides will not be altered by delisting the Hawaiian hawk.
    On June 28, 1979, the Hawaiian hawk was included in Appendix II of
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES). This treaty was established to prevent
international trade that may be detrimental to the survival of plants
and animals. International trade is regulated through a system of CITES
permits and certificates. CITES permits and certificates may not be
issued if trade will be detrimental to the survival of the species or
if the specimens being imported or exported were not legally acquired.
This protection will not be altered by delisting the Hawaiian hawk.
    Federal delisting of the Hawaiian hawk will automatically remove
this species from the State of Hawaii threatened and endangered species
lists under Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) 195D-4. However, as a native
species, the hawk will continue to be afforded the protection of the
State in accordance with HRS 195-1, which states that (1) the State of
Hawaii possesses unique natural resources, such as geological and
volcanological features and distinctive marine and terrestrial plants
and animals, many of which occur nowhere else in the world, that are
highly vulnerable to loss by the growth of population and technology;
(2) these unique natural assets should be protected and preserved, both
for the enjoyment of future generations, and to provide base lines
against which changes which are being made in the environments of
Hawaii can be measured; (3) in order to accomplish these purposes the
present system of preserves, sanctuaries and refuges must be
strengthened, and additional areas of land and shoreline suitable for
preservation should be set aside and administered solely and
specifically for the aforesaid purposes; and (4) that a statewide
natural area reserves system should be established to preserve in
perpetuity specific land and water areas which support communities, as
relatively unmodified as possible, of the natural flora and fauna, as
well as geological sites, of Hawaii. [L 1970, c 139, pt of Sec.  1]
Under State of Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), it is prohibited to
``catch, possess, injure, kill, destroy, sell, offer for sale, or
transport'' any indigenous wildlife, as well as to export any such
species (HAR 13-124-3), unless authorized by permit (HAR 13-124-4).
    Multiple regulatory mechanisms protect the Hawaiian hawk, and these
regulatory mechanisms (i.e., the MBTA, National Wildlife Refuge System
Improvement Act of 1997, Hawaii National Park Act of 1916, EPA, CITES,
HRS 195-1, 50 CFR 21.29 and 21.30, and the State's HAR 13-124-3 and HAR
13-124-4) will continue to provide protection to the Hawaiian hawk in
the future after delisting. Approximately 754 sq mi (1,953 sq km), or
32 percent, of the Hawaiian hawk's habitat is located on protected
lands in the form of State and Federal forests, parks, and refuges.
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E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence
Single Island Endemism
    Species that are endemic to a single island, such as the Hawaiian
hawk, are inherently more vulnerable to extinction than widespread
species because of the higher risks posed to a single population by
random demographic fluctuations and localized catastrophes such as
fires, hurricanes, and disease outbreaks (IRWG 2001, p. 3). However,
the Hawaiian hawk is adaptable to a variety of habitats and is
relatively abundant and widespread in suitable habitat on much of the
island, making it resilient to random demographic fluctuations or
localized catastrophes (e.g., volcanic eruption). Even a large-scale
catastrophe such as a major hurricane or fire is unlikely to cause the
extinction or endangerment of a hawk that can effectively use
regenerating forests as foraging areas and can nest in relatively small
patches of older forests that are likely to remain intact following
such an event.
Wind Facilities
    There are currently three wind facilities on the island of Hawaii:
Hawi, located near Hawi (16 wind turbine generators), Pakini Nui, lnear
South Point (14 turbines), and Lalamilo near Kamuela, (5 turbines).
While wind turbines kill numerous bird and bat species across the
United States (Hutchins 2016, in litt.; USFWS 2017, in litt.),
including in Hawaii, we have no reports of Hawaiian hawk fatalities
caused by wind turbine collision. Canine-assisted, standardized
compliance monitoring for fatalities is conducted at Pakini Nui at 7-
day intervals, but the Lalamilo and Hawi projects do not currently have
a standardized monitoring program at this time. To our knowledge, only
one Hawaiian hawk has been observed among all three Hawaii island wind
facilities. In 2013, one Hawaiian hawk was observed at the Hawi wind
facility. A draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) framework for Hawi
included a request for an incidental take permit to coverage for up to
three Hawaiian hawks (e.g., adult, egg, fledgling) over a period of 20
years; however, the project does not currently have an HCP nor has an
application for an HCP been submitted. We consider the potential
impacts from Lalalimo and Pakini Nui wind facilities on Hawaiian hawks
to be negligible, while Hawi has the potential to impact individual
Hawaiian hawks. Lalamilo is in the draft stage of State and Federal HCP
preparation and Pakini Nui is in the process of finalizing an HCP and
incidental take permit; however, neither HCP include Hawaiian hawks as
they are not anticipate to cause take of Hawaiian hawks. Considering
only a single observation of a Hawaiian hawk has been reported over the
last decade, we do not consider wind turbines to pose a threat to the
Hawaiian hawk's viability at this time. Monitoring at Hawi will keep us
informed if more Hawaiian hawks are observed in the area and most
certainly if a Hawaiian hawk is harmed. Hawaiian hawks will continue to
be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (see Factor D, above).
    The cumulative data show that the Hawaiian hawk has a low
sensitivity to environmental fluctuations and the Hawaiian hawk
viability is not currently jeopardized by the location of the three
current wind farms on Hawaii island. The Hawaiian hawk has maintained a
stable, self-reproducing population through fluctuations in human
population growth, urban and exurban development, forestry practices,
conservation actions, type of prey, and pesticide use. An individual's
sensitivity to environmental changes contributes substantially to its
fitness, where a reduced sensitivity increases the fitness (Melbinger
and Vergassola 2015, p. 2). We conclude that Hawaiian hawk viability is
not currently at risk from environmental fluctuations. Similarly,
despite broad use of pesticides, including SGARs, and detection of
SCARs in Hawaiian hawk tissue, Hawaiian hawks maintained a stable self-
reproducing population during a time period when SCARS were more
commonly used (see Recovery Plan Implementation, above).
Cumulative Effects
    We examined each of the five factors above individually and have
determined that none of these threats is substantive and none of these
threats jeopardizes the survival of the Hawaiian hawk. We also examined
the potential for the cumulative impact of such unsubstantive threats
to be greater than the impact from each individual threat. The Hawaiian
hawk has maintained a stable, self-sustaining population of between
2,500 and 3,000 individuals for decades, with the most recent
population estimate at 3,000 individuals sustained over at least 10
years. The Hawaiian hawk has maintained viability while experiencing
varying degrees of habitat destruction or modification (urbanization,
agriculture, nonnative plant and animal species, fire, drought, climate
change, volcanic eruption, and ROD); overutilization of the species for
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes
(shooting); disease (avian pox and avian malaria) or predation
(nonnative rats, mice, mongoose, cats, and dogs); inadequate regulatory
mechanisms; and other natural or manmade factors (small range, single-
island endemism, wind turbines, and contaminants and pesticides).
Therefore, considering the potential impacts from any number of
combinations of the threats outlined in this rule, we find that the
viability of the Hawaiian hawk is not at risk from cumulative effects.
Post-delisting monitoring will monitor the status of the Hawaiian hawk
population and its habitat to detect any changes in status that may
result from removing the Hawaiian hawk from the List of Endangered and
Threatened Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11(h)).
Summary of Comments and Recommendations
    In total, we received 195 comment letters on the proposal to delist
the Hawaiian hawk and the draft post-delisting monitoring (PDM) plan.
Four comments were from peer reviewers, three of these on the proposed
rule and one on the PDM plan. Seven comment letters were from offices
of the State of Hawaii, one comment letter was from the County of
Hawaii, and 183 comments were from the general public. All substantive
information provided during the comment periods has been incorporated
directly into this final determination (see Summary of Changes from the
Proposed Rule, above) or is addressed below.
    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994
(59 FR 34270), we received expert opinion from four knowledgeable
individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with
the Hawaiian hawk and its habitat, biological needs, and threats.
    We reviewed all comments we received from the peer reviewers for
substantive issues and new information regarding the proposed delisting
of the Hawaiian hawk. The peer reviewers generally agreed with our
analysis in the proposed rule and provided additional information,
clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final rule. Peer
reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary and
incorporated into the final determination as appropriate.
Peer Review Comments
    (1) Comment: All three of the peer reviewers who commented on the
proposed rule agreed with the analysis used for proposing delisting.
Reasons they provided for supporting our analysis include the lack of
evidence
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that the species' range is contracting, survey information indicates
the Hawaiian hawk population has been stable over the last 20 to 30
years, and Hawaiian hawks use both native and nonnative habitats for
breeding and hunting. Two of the peer reviewers stated that although
ongoing threats to habitat continue, this is not of sufficient
magnitude that Hawaiian hawk would become endangered or threatened in
the foreseeable future (defined as 20 years in the proposed rule). One
peer reviewer stated that the rule could be substantially improved in
several ways to make our analysis more clear. Suggestions were to
clarify that the most current population analysis (Gorresen et al.
2008, entire), which used updated methodology, corrected for errors in
past abundance estimates and showed the population abundance of
Hawaiian hawks has been approximately 3,000 birds for the past 30
years; and to better convey the severity of the threats associated with
loss or degradation of habitat, WNV, and conversion of agricultural
land to eucalyptus. Another peer reviewer commented they were not
convinced eucalyptus would be incompatible with Hawaiian hawk foraging
and nesting; rather, the size, juxtaposition, and density of the
woodland will determine the use by Hawaiian hawks.
    Our Response: We concur that there is no evidence that the Hawaiian
hawk's range is contracting, that data indicate the species' population
is stable, and that Hawaiian hawks breed and forage in both native and
nonnative habitats. In addition, we have modified our language under
Summary of Factors Affecting the Species to better clarify the
potential threats. We concur that it is important to ensure this rule
clearly explains that the most current data show the Hawaiian hawk
population has remained stable with a population abundance of
approximately 3,000 birds for the past 30 or more years. We also agree
that the forest structure is an important component of Hawaiian hawk
habitat.
    (2) Comment: One peer reviewer commented conducting surveys along
roadways and using audio playback recordings may have biased Hawaiian
hawk population survey results.
    Our Response: During the 1998 to 1999 surveys, movements by
Hawaiian hawks in response to playback recordings were observed. A
correction factor for undetected movements was developed based on
distances at which Hawaiian hawks were first seen or heard by paired
observers. This correction factor was used for the analysis of all 1998
to 1999 and 2007 survey data (Klavitter and Marzluff 2007, entire;
Gorresen et al. 2008, entire). The 2007 surveys (Gorresen et al. 2008,
entire) closely followed the same routes and locations as were counted
in 1998-1999 (Klavitter 2000, entire). While stations mostly followed
roads due to the need to survey many widely dispersed stations
throughout the range of the Hawaiian hawk, counts were conducted at
locations away from the road to ensure traffic noise was limited.
Stations located along transects that did not follow roads were also
included in both surveys. Thus, any potential bias in the analysis that
could exist from the survey point locations would be the same in both
datasets, allowing for direct comparison of population trend between
the two counts. No significant difference in densities was found
between years at either regional or island-wide scales. Thus, the
population trend appears to be stable.
    (3) Comment: One peer reviewer suggested we conduct a population
viability assessment (PVA) to better understand demographic patterns
and Hawaiian hawk population trajectory for the foreseeable future.
    Our Response: A preliminary PVA that evaluated variations in
survival and breeding success for female Hawaiian hawks was developed
(Vorsino and Nelson 2016, unpublished data) for native, mixed, and
exotic habitat (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 15; Klavitter et al. 2003, p.
170). Although valuable data resulted from the PVA with respect to
Hawaiian hawk viability in specific habitats over 30 years, it did not
include all of the threats outlined in the proposed rule or this final
rule, nor did it consider ongoing conservation successes (e.g.,
strawberry guava biocontrol efforts, an increase in conservation
actions, and an increase in overall acreage on which conservation
occurs and lands are set aside for conservation in perpetuity (see
Recovery Plan Implementation, above)). Therefore, we have incorporated
this PVA into the relevant analyses, but have not based our decision
solely on it, based on its limited scope and uncertainty. For details
regarding the PVA, please see ``Demographics,'' above.
State Comments
    (4) Comment: We received four comment letters from the State of
Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), three regarding
the proposed rule and one regarding the draft PDM plan. In 2008, the
DLNR supported delisting the Hawaiian hawk, but stressed the importance
of adequate monitoring to detect any potential changes in the
population status of Hawaiian hawks in a timely way. In 2009, the DLNR
stated their appreciation to the Service for developing the PDM plan to
adequately monitor the Hawaiian hawk once removed from the Federal List
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. In 2014 and 2018, the DLNR
supported reclassifying the species as threatened (not delisting) and
stated concern regarding the possible introduction of WNV. The DLNR
also stated concern that it is unclear given current information
whether the small Hawaiian hawk population is sufficient to ensure
genetic viability into the future, and recommended determining genetic
attributes of the species.
    Our Response: We agree that regular population monitoring is
important to detect any changes to the Hawaiian hawk population and to
quickly identify the presence of new threats (e.g., WNV) or the
worsening of currently minor threats. We recognize the existence of
potential future threats such as WNV (see Factor C discussion, above);
however, to our knowledge, WNV is not present in Hawaii and, therefore,
not currently a threat. The PDM plan includes conducting island-wide
surveys every 5 years through 2044 to monitor for changes in the
species' status. We have no evidence that the Hawaiian hawk population
is suffering from small population effects such as inbreeding
depression. The population of Hawaiian hawks is stable, and has been
stable for the past several decades.
    (5) Comment: We received two comments from the State of Hawaii
Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). In these, OHA stated the cultural
significance of the Hawaiian hawk to the Hawaiian people. Office of
Hawaiian Affairs also stated concern regarding the amount of
agriculturally zoned and non-protected Hawaiian hawk habitat and
instances in which agriculturally zoned parcels have been rezoned for
subdivisions and large residential lots, which may have an adverse
effect on Hawaiian hawks. In addition, OHA stated concern that the
current population of approximately 3,000 Hawaiian hawks was inadequate
to delist the species at least partially due to the species'
vulnerability to a single large catastrophic event given Hawaiian hawks
currently exist only on Hawaii. Office of Hawaiian Affairs suggested
reintroducing Hawaiian hawks to other islands as a way to reduce risk
from a large-scale catastrophic event.
    Our Response: We acknowledge and greatly appreciate the cultural
significance of Hawaiian hawks to the Hawaiian people. We believe that
the
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recovery of the hawk was made possible by the collective ongoing
conservation actions implemented by the private, State, and federal
partners outlined under Recovery Plan Implementation and Factor A,
above. According to State and private foresters, forest areas on the
island have increased, particularly native forest areas.
    There have not been substantial changes in zoning designations from
conservation lands to agriculture in recent decades. However, there
have been many instances of applications for administrative approval
for zoning changes from larger agricultural acreage to smaller
agricultural acreage, agricultural to single family residential, and
single family residential to general commercial. Building of
subdivisions on agriculture lands will likely have adverse effects on
Hawaiian hawks because of loss of trees for nesting and perching, and
possible effects of human disturbance. However, there are also many
conservation efforts to protect habitat on the island of Hawaii (see
Recovery Plan Implementation and the Factor A discussion, above), and
our analysis considers those.
    We acknowledge the current population of approximately 3,000
Hawaiian hawks may be considered small and is possibly vulnerable to a
single large catastrophic event, such as an extremely large hurricane
directly hitting the island or the introduction of WNV; however, we do
not believe that it is likely that a hurricane will occur at a scale
that would endanger the Hawaiian hawk in the foreseeable future, nor is
it likely that WNV will arrive on Hawaii island due to the efforts
being made to prevent the introduction of WNV. In determining whether a
species in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future, we need
to be able to reasonably determine that both the future threats and the
species' responses to those threats are likely. We placed primary
emphasis for our five-factor analysis on threats currently present and
those we could reliably predict to occur in the foreseeable future. In
part because of potential threats (e.g., a major hurricane or new
disease) we intend to monitor the status of the Hawaiian hawk, in
cooperation with DOFAW, the NPS, and USGS-BRD, through periodic (every
5 years starting in 2024) island-wide surveys. The Act requires post
delisting monitoring for no less than 5 years. If data from these
surveys or from some other source indicates significant declines in
Hawaiian hawk distribution and abundance, the Service will consider
initiating procedures to re-list the Hawaiian hawk.
    While we agree reintroducing Hawaiian hawks to other islands is a
way to reduce risk to Hawaiian hawks from a large-scale catastrophic
event, because breeding populations of Hawaiian hawks have not occurred
on other islands in Hawaii for hundreds of years (if ever),
establishing Hawaiian hawks on other islands must be considered with
caution as it could disrupt ecosystems on other islands (e.g.,
predator-prey relationships).
    (6) Comment: We received one comment from the Council of the County
of Hawaii containing a resolution in support of maintaining the
Hawaiian hawk on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
based on concerns about the limited range (only the island of Hawaii)
of the Hawaiian hawk; broad-scale loss of nesting, fledgling, and
perching habitat for the hawk; development of agricultural lands;
cutting of native forests; and urbanization.
    Our Response: We evaluated the County's concerns and addressed them
in our threats analysis and throughout the preamble of this rule (see
Recovery Plan Implementation and Factor A discussion, above).
Public Comments
    (7) Comment: Several commenters provided evidence of loss of
Hawaiian hawk habitat to housing development. Several commenters said
they saw fewer Hawaiian hawks than previously in areas with recent
development.
    Our Response: We examined the evidence and conducted further
research on degradation and loss of Hawaiian hawk habitat as a result
of housing development, agriculture, and urban development under Factor
A of our threats analysis. Mean Hawaiian hawk density in native forests
is almost four times greater than Hawaiian hawk density in areas with
housing development (Gorresen et al. 2008, pp. 10-11, 47). The reason
for higher densities of Hawaiian hawks in native forest is greater
abundance of prey and nest sites and lack of human disturbance or
harassment (Klavitter 2000, p. 14). While some studies on other Buteo
species found evidence of reduced reproductive rates in areas with
human habitation (Bosakowski et al. 1992, p. 444; England et al. 1995,
p. 179), other studies on Buteo species outside of Hawaii have found
that reproductive success was not affected by the degree of
urbanization around nest sites, and that reproductive rates of Buteo
species in areas of human habitat were not affected by urbanization
(Rottenborn 2000, p. 18; Dyukstra et al. 2000, p. 401).
    Despite the steady urbanization of coastal and lowland dry
ecosystem areas on the island of Hawaii over the past 30 years,
Hawaiian hawks have maintained a stable, viable population.
Additionally, the human population growth rate on the island of Hawaii
is less than previously anticipated and expected to level off in the
early 2020s, and subdivisions on the island have plateaued (see
Recovery Plan Implementation and Factor A discussion, above). Further,
there are many ongoing conservation efforts to restore native habitats
on the island of Hawaii that benefit Hawaiian hawks by providing
potential breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat (e.g., perches). To
better explain these conservation efforts, we added information under
our Factor A discussion, above.
    (8) Comment: Several commenters provided information on
applications for administrative approval for zoning changes from
agricultural to residential and for subdivision of agricultural lands.
These commenters stated concern that this will encourage housing
development.
    Our Response: We agree that zoning changes from agricultural to
residential and subdivision of agricultural lands will encourage
housing or other development in these areas, which may negatively
affect Hawaiian hawk habitat. However, despite such zoning changes
occurring steadily over the past several decades, Hawaiian hawks have
maintained a stable and viable population for at least 30 years. See
Recovery Planning Implementation and our Factor A discussion, above, as
well as our response to Comment (7).
    (9) Comment: Several commenters provided information on forest
clearing in the Puna and Kona regions, and provided evidence of the
building of large home-type dwellings in the Kona region in areas zoned
for agricultural use.
    Our Response: We examined information on forest loss, forest gain,
and percentage of forest cover for Hawaii County, which was gathered
using high-resolution satellite imagery, for the years 2000 to 2012
(Hansen et al. 2013, entire), to better understand potential effects of
forest clearing on Hawaiian hawk habitat. Satellite images revealed
many small areas of recent forest clearing in both the Puna and Kona
regions. Most of this was within already existing suburban areas;
however, some was in adjacent mixed native-exotic and mature native
forest. Some forest loss in the Kona region was in areas zoned for
agricultural use, and large residential-type homes were built in
recently cleared areas. In general, we
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found forest clearing to negatively affect Hawaiian hawk habitat
through the removal of trees that the Hawaiian hawk uses for perching
and nesting, but these effects are to individual birds who can move to
new territories and not to the population as a whole. In 2018, both
State and private foresters on the island of Hawaii reported that
forested areas on the island have increased, particularly native forest
areas. We address forest loss and gain further and provide information
on related conservation actions under our Factor A discussion, above.
    (10) Comment: Many commenters suggested agricultural practices may
be having a negative effect on Hawaiian hawk habitat.
    Our Response: Agricultural practices have a negative effect on
Hawaiian hawk habitat when the result is a net loss of forest and
nesting habitat and fewer perching sites from which the hawk may hunt
(Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 23; Klavitter and Marzluff 2007, p. 172).
Approximately 55 percent of the land area within the Hawaiian hawk's
range is designated for intensive agriculture, and a small portion of
this for industrial and urban use. The remaining 45 percent is
designated for conservation (County of Hawaii 2005a, as amended, pp.
14-3-14-6; Gorresen et al. 2008, pp. 22, 44).
    In the past, agricultural practices have resulted in a net loss of
forest and nesting habitat and fewer perching sites from which the
Hawaiian hawk may hunt. However, as of 2018, both State and private
foresters report there is an increase in forested areas on the island,
particularly native forest areas, and that many old pasturelands are
slowly being converted to native forests (see Recovery Plan
Implementation and Factor A discussion, above). Large orchards have
lower hawk densities than smaller orchards because these have fewer
trees for perching and from which to hunt. Orchard areas in the Kona
region had significantly lower Hawaiian hawk density than native forest
and mixed native exotic forest for the same region. Approximately 2.1
percent (47 sq mi (121 sq km)) of the Hawaiian hawk's range is in
orchards planted in coffee, papaya, and macadamia nuts (Melrose and
Delparte 2012, p. 34). Based on the best available information for
acreage trends for coffee, papaya, and macadamia nuts, and State and
private forester reports of increased forest areas (particularly native
forest) across the island, we expect only a small increase (less than
0.5 percent) in areas of intensive agriculture in the foreseeable
future. We consider such an increase would have discountable impacts to
Hawaiian hawks and their habitat.
    (11) Comment: Some commenters stated concerns that cattle grazing
may cause forest degradation that is harmful to Hawaiian hawks.
    Our Response: Open canopy native forest with a grass understory
supports the highest densities of Hawaiian hawks because it provides
many large ohia trees for perching and nesting, ample small prey for
food, and open forest understory that provides fewer places for prey to
hide (Gorresen et al. 2008, p. 47). Intensive cattle grazing in dry and
mesic forest leads to a reduction of overstory canopy and the
conversion over time of native forest to open grassland that is
unusable by Hawaiian hawks because of the lack of trees for perching,
nesting, and hunting (Blackmore and Vitousek 2000, pp. 625, 627, 629;
Klavitter 2003, p. 170). However, starting at the turn of the century,
several large landowners (private, Federal, and State) ended their
pastoral leases and are steadily promoting natural regeneration to take
the place of old pastures (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.). Further,
State and private foresters report that there is actually an increase
in forested areas on the island, particularly native forest areas (see
Recovery Plan Implementation and Factor A discussion, above).
    (12) Comment: Several commenters stated concerns that commercial
forestry, particularly eucalyptus, may negatively affect Hawaiian hawk
habitat by replacing moderate quality agricultural lands, which provide
large trees for perching and open sites for hunting, with forest
monocultures.
    Our Response: We examined the extent of commercial forestry in
Hawaii County and the quality of commercial forest in providing hunting
and nesting opportunities for Hawaiian hawks. Large monocultures of
eucalyptus are only marginally usable habitat for Hawaiian hawks
because forest monocultures do not provide the complex forest structure
that likely supports greater prey abundance and the more open
understory the Hawaiian hawk needs for hunting. Approximately 11.6 sq
mi (30 sq km) of mostly fallow agricultural lands have been converted
to forestry plantations on Hawaii since the year 2000. More and more
timber plantations are shifting their cultivation to native trees,
mostly koa (Acacia koa), and harvest timber in patchwork patterns
versus clear cutting to maintain habitat for native birds such as the
Hawaiian hawk. Additionally, the State is moving away from planting
exotic timber tree species and toward planting native species when
economically feasible (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.). Island-wide,
there has been an increase in forested areas, particularly native
forest areas (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.). The shift in forestry
practices listed above, in conjunction with the increase in
conservation measures and lands set aside for conservation in
perpetuity (see Recovery Plan Implementation and Factor A discussion,
above), leads us to conclude that current forestry practices do not
threaten the continued survival of Hawaiian hawks.
    (13) Comment: Several commenters stated concerns that planned
growth for renewable energy production in Hawaii County may negatively
affect Hawaiian hawk habitat and that wind energy production by on-
shore wind turbines could cause Hawaiian hawk mortality.
    Our Response: We examined current renewable energy production in
Hawaii County and potential effects of renewable energy on Hawaiian
hawks and their habitat. Potential sources of renewable energy on
Hawaii primarily include biofuel and wind energy production. Some of
the potential crops for renewable energy include sunflowers (herb) and
Jatropha curcas (large shrub to small trees) from which oils are
extracted. All of the lands considered for biofuel crop production are
already zoned for agriculture. Examples include fallow sugarcane fields
and areas currently being used for diversified agriculture, grazing,
and timber production. Some renewable biofuel (crops/lands) may
continue to provide suitable habitat for Hawaiian hawks, whereas,
depending on the crop, others may not. There is currently only one
biofuel plant on the island of Hawaii, and we are unaware of plans for
additional biofuel plants. Further, of the total available lands on the
island that meet the minimum requirements for biofuel crop production
(757,518 ac), only 11 percent (82,000 ac) are suitable (Hawaii Military
Biofuels Crop Program (Task 6) 2015, p. 18). As of 2018, there are no
farms on the island of Hawaii dedicated solely to biofuel production
(Long 2018, pers. comm.) (see also ``Conversion of Sugarcane Fields to
Unsuitable Habitat,'' above). There are three on-shore wind farms on
Hawaii that generate energy using wind turbines. All downed endangered
or threatened birds and bats are reported to our office. We are unaware
of any downed Hawaiian hawks resulting from wind turbines. Therefore,
we do not consider biofuel production (crops or facilities) or wind
turbines to be a threat to Hawaiian hawks.
[[Page 183]]
    (14) Comment: Several commenters stated concerns that drought and
invasion of fire-tolerant nonnative grasses pose a threat to Hawaiian
hawk habitat by increasing fire frequency and intensity. Some of these
commenters also commented that climate change will increase drought
frequency and intensity.
    Our Response: We address the risk of fire and drought under
``Invasive Plant Species, Drought, and Increase in Fire Frequency,''
above. We also added a discussion on drought to our fire risk analysis.
Additionally, we examined the effects of a drying climate and drought
on Hawaiian hawk habitat, as discussed in our October 30, 2018, Federal
Register publication (83 FR 54561) to reopen the proposed delisting
rule's comment period, and have subsequently added to our discussions
in this rule under ``Invasive Plant Species, Drought, and Increase in
Fire Frequency'' and ``Invasive Species (Concealing Prey)'' as it
pertains to strawberry guava. Although fire and drought pose risks to
Hawaiian hawks and their habitat, fires and prolonged periods of
droughts have occurred on the island of Hawaii, including between
survey periods (Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization 2019, in litt.;
U.S. Drought Monitor 2019, in litt.), and the Hawaiian hawk population
remained stable. Therefore, at this time, we conclude that neither
drought nor fire is a risk to the survival of Hawaiian hawks.
    (15) Comment: Many commenters stated concerns that Hawaiian hawk
habitat is threatened by invasion of nonnative, ecosystem-altering
plant species, such as strawberry guava.
    Our Response: We examine effects of nonnative plant species on
Hawaiian hawk habitat under ``Invasive Plant Species, Drought, and
Increase in Fire Frequency'' and ``Invasive Species (Concealing
Prey),'' above. Additionally, we added to this rule a discussion
regarding the potential impacts of strawberry guava under
``Demographics,'' Recovery Plan Implementation, and ``Invasive Species
(Concealing Prey).'' Although nonnative species and other factors may
potentially impact Hawaiian hawks and their habitat, many ongoing
conservation actions taking place counter such negative impacts (see
our Factor A discussion, above). Additionally, forest habitat
(particularly native forest areas) is increasing now on the island of
Hawaii (Koch and Walter 2018, in litt.).
    (16) Comment: Several commenters stated concerns that Hawaiian hawk
habitat may be negatively affected by volcanic gas (vog).
    Our Response: According to the USGS (2019, in litt.), ``the
sulfuric acid droplets in vog have the corrosive properties of dilute
battery acid. When vog mixes directly with moisture on the leaves of
plants it can cause severe chemical burns, which can damage or kill
plants. Sulfur dioxide gas can also diffuse through leaves and dissolve
to form acid conditions within plant tissues.'' The USGS also reports
that farmers on the island of Hawaii, particularly in the Kau district,
have reported loss of agricultural crops and flowers as a result of
sulfur dioxide emissions from a gas vent at Kilauea's summit. Most
agricultural damage occurs just down slope of the volcano (e.g., Kau)
(Nelson and Sewake 2008, p. 1), as well as in the Kona area (Kratky
1997, in litt.; USGS 2019, in litt.).
    Some agricultural crops have demonstrated resistance to vog (Nelson
and Sewake 2008, p. 2; USGS 2019, in litt.). Native plants in Kilauea
and surrounding areas have evolved to live with frequent volcanic
eruptions and associated vog (Nelson and Sewake 2008, p. 2). Ohia, one
of the dominant forest trees across the main Hawaiian Islands, can
close its stomata (gas exchange cells) during periods of high sulfur
dioxide exposure to protect itself from vog damage (USGS 2019, in
litt.). Additionally, the nonnative plants that provide or contribute
toward Hawaiian hawk habitat have become established species despite
the active volcano and associated vog. Because both native and
nonnative plants persist despite multiple eruptions and periods of high
vog emissions, we conclude that vog is not detrimental to plant species
that contribute toward or support (e.g., native-mixed forest) Hawaiian
hawks and, therefore, does not constitute not a threat to the survival
of the Hawaiian hawk.
    (17) Comment: Many commenters stated concerns that Hawaiian hawk
habitat may be destroyed by lava flows.
    Our Response: The majority of Hawaiian hawk habitat is on the
active volcanoes of Mauna Loa, Kilauea, and Hualalai. The land area
covered by lava during past volcanic eruptions for these volcanoes has
been as much as 1 percent of the Hawaiian hawk's range.
    Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Kilauea
had nearly continuous activity during the 19th century and early part
of the 20th century, and since 1952, there have been 34 eruptions (USGS
2018, in litt.). In 1983, an eruption along the East Rift Zone of
Kilauea began and has not stopped to this day (Rubin 2018, in litt.).
Periodically since 1983, both natural and human habitats in and around
Kilauea have been destroyed by lava. Kilauea's most recent increase in
activity began in May 2018, and by mid-August 2018, the increase in
activity decreased in some areas and ceased in others. During its most
recent activity, Kilauea exuded enough lava to cover hundreds of human-
made structures and approximately half of the Malama Ki Forest Reserve
(1,514 ac (613 ha)) (DLNR 2018, in litt.; West Hawaii Today 2018, in
litt.). Half of the Malama Ki Forest Reserve makes up only a fraction
of Hawaiian hawk habitat.
    Hawaiian forests have evolved alongside Kilauea. Once lava cools,
native plants quickly recolonize through a process called primary
succession, which refers to the progressive establishment of vegetation
on a barren substrate (e.g., lava flow or glacial retreat). On the
island of Hawaii, primary succession usually starts with lichens and
fungi, followed by ferns and then ohia trees and other native plants
(Kitayama et al. 1995, pp. 215-219; Muller-Dombois and Boehmer 2013,
entire).
    Although ongoing volcanic eruptions have the potential to destroy
much or all of the habitat in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and
surrounding areas, Hawaiian hawks have evolved alongside volcanic
activity on the island of Hawaii, and despite past volcanic activity,
Hawaiian hawks have maintained a stable population of approximately
3,000 individuals for at least 30 years. We conclude that the recent
increase in Kilauea's activity is not a threat to the survival of the
Hawaiian hawk.
    (18) Comment: Many commenters felt we had not adequately addressed
potential impacts of hurricanes on Hawaiian hawks, especially because
current data suggest that Hawaii will have more frequent and intense
hurricanes due to climate change.
    Our Response: Large portions of the Hawaiian hawk's range on Hawaii
are in montane upland areas that are potentially more vulnerable to
damage from hurricanes, Should the eye of a powerful hurricane strike
the island of Hawaii it would cause widespread damage to ohia trees and
other trees Hawaiian hawks use for nesting and perching, which would
create conditions that may allow for expansion of nonnative, ecosystem-
disrupting plants. A strong hurricane would not only alter Hawaiian
hawk habitat, it would likely cause an increase in mortality of
nestlings and young birds for a period of time. However, despite
current data indicating an increase in frequency and intensity of
hurricanes in Hawaii, it is unknown when or if a
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major hurricane will occur on the island of Hawaii on a scale that
would decrease the viability of the species. Additionally, the
cumulative data indicates that the range of the Hawaiian hawk, which
spans much of the island of Hawaii, will provide the species with the
redundancy and resiliency necessary to maintain viability under such a
stochastic or catastrophic event. Please also see Factor A, above.
    (19) Comment: Several commenters felt we had not adequately
addressed potential impacts of disease and feral ungulates to ohia.
    Our Response: In response to these comments, we examined a number
of factors affecting ohia, including effects of feral ungulates, ohia
dieback, ohia rust, and rapid ohia death (ROD). While nonnative feral
ungulates and the aforementioned diseases do impact ohia forest
habitat, the Hawaiian hawk has adapted to use both native, nonnative,
and mixed forest habitats for both nesting and hunting. Further,
despite the presence of ohia dieback and ohia rust, Hawaiian hawk
numbers have remained stable. For further details of this analysis,
please see Factor A, above.
    (20) Comment: Many commenters noted they had heard of Hawaiian
hawks being shot by farmers and hunters. Several of these commenters
reported Hawaiian hawks were shot because they are considered a threat
to poultry.
    Our Response: We have evaluated gunshot wound cases under Recovery
Plan Implementation and our Factor B discussion, above. According to
our records, there have been seven documented cases that involve
Hawaiian hawk gunshot wounds between 2013 and 2018. Four of these
occurred in 2018. This information shows some level of persecution;
however, it appears this is not occurring over a large scale or
affecting large numbers of Hawaiian hawks. Outreach to farmers and
hunters regarding the State-protected status of the Hawaiian hawks and
their cultural importance may help reduce negative perceptions and
subsequent incidence of persecution. When this rule is effective (see
DATES, above), shooting of Hawaiian hawks will remain illegal under
both the MBTA and Hawaii State law.
    (21) Comment: Several commenters thought at least one motivation
for proposed delisting was to remove protections in order to allow
greater latitude to manage Hawaiian hawks should one attack an
endangered Hawaiian crow (alala; Corvus hawaiiensis) that is planned
for reintroduction.
    Our Response: We are delisting the Hawaiian hawk because the
species no longer meets the definition of an endangered species or a
threatened species under the Act. The Io Recovery Working Group (IRWG),
in a report submitted to the Service in 2001 (IRWG 2001, pp. 2-3),
stated neither Hawaiian hawk behavioral modification nor Hawaiian hawk
removal will be a successful strategy to reduce predation on alala;
therefore, we do not anticipate Hawaiian hawk management to be a viable
method for recovering the alala.
    (22) Comment: Several commenters stated concern that delisting
Hawaiian hawks would remove the protections of the Endangered Species
Act; therefore, Hawaiian hawks would be hunted and suffer other forms
of persecution. One of these commenters specified that pigeon fanciers
may want to harm or harass Hawaiian hawks to prevent Hawaiian hawks
from killing pigeons. One commenter reported hearing ``air rifles''
when pigeon fanciers were flying birds and Hawaiian hawks were in the
air.
    Our Response: After the effective date of this rule (see DATES,
above), the Hawaiian hawk will still be protected under the MBTA, the
Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) 195-1, and the Hawaii Administrative Rules
(HAR) 13-124-3. The MBTA and its implementing regulations (50 CFR parts
20 and 21) prohibit take (killing or harming), possession, import,
export, transport, selling, purchase, barter, or offering for sale,
purchase or barter, any migratory bird, their eggs, parts, and nests,
except as authorized under a valid permit (50 CFR 21.11). The HAR 13-
124-3 provides similar protections. HRS 195-1 requires the State to
protect and preserve indigenous species of marine and terrestrial
animals and plants.
    (23) Comment: Several commenters noted a threat to Hawaiian hawks
from the possible introduction of novel bird diseases including West
Nile virus (WNV) and the importance of environmental screening for
these threats.
    Our Response: Hawaiian hawks do not appear to be susceptible to
diseases currently established on the island of Hawaii, such as avian
pox or avian malaria. Since 2002, the State has implemented an active
WNV surveillance program at all ports, and no WNV has been detected in
Hawaii to date. The State's Department of Agriculture has established a
pre-arrival isolation requirement and a Poultry and Bird Import Permit
issued through the Livestock Disease Control Branch for all birds
entering the State. Furthermore, the Hawaii State Department of Health
has an ongoing, multi-agency WNV surveillance program in place on all
of the main Hawaiian Islands, which involves surveillance for infected
mosquitoes and dead birds, as well as live-bird surveillance at major
ports of entry, equine surveillance, and human surveillance (State of
Hawaii 2006, in litt.). See our discussion above under Factor C for
further details. Because WNV is not currently in Hawaii, we do not
consider it a threat to the survival of Hawaiian hawks.
    (24) Comment: Some commenters stated concerns that Hawaiian hawks
might be poisoned by rodenticides and the broad-scale killing of rats
may result in less food for Hawaiian hawks.
    Our Response: Rodenticides are widely used in agriculture and
residential areas to prevent crop and property damage and to protect
human health. These rodenticides vary in their toxicity to the natural
environment and risk to non-target animal exposure. A recent study was
commissioned by the Service to quantify the exposure of a bat and
several bird species, including Hawaiian hawks, to rodenticides in
Hawaii. Some of the Hawaiian hawk carcasses tested positive for
rodenticides; however, as of 2011, the most environmentally toxic
rodenticides (SGARs) have been banned except for specific uses (e.g.,
around agricultural buildings). For more information on the study and
its results, see Recovery Plan Implementation, above. Killing rats may
reduce available food for Hawaiian hawks in some areas; however, there
are other foods available for the Hawaiian hawk including birds and
insects. Because Hawaiian hawks have maintained a stable population of
approximately 3,000 individuals over at least three decades, despite
the more widespread use of SGARs prior to 2011, we do not consider
rodenticides to be a threat to the survival of the Hawaiian hawk.
    (25) Comment: Several commenters felt because the Hawaiian hawk
population is small, the species should not be delisted. Some of these
also commented that Hawaiian hawk females typically only produce one to
three eggs per year, and most frequently only one.
    Our Response: The Hawaiian hawk population of approximately 3,000
individuals has been stable for at least 30 years. Although historical
sightings and fossil records show the Hawaiian hawk may have once bred
on adjacent islands in Hawaii, there are no quantitative data to show
an actual range contraction or decrease in population abundance. The
Hawaiian hawk still occupies its entire historical range. The Hawaiian
hawk does have a slow reproductive rate, often producing
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only one offspring per year; however, despite this slow reproductive
rate, the Hawaiian hawk has maintained a viable, stable population.
After assessing the best available information, we concluded the
Hawaiian hawk does not meet the definition of an endangered or
threatened species.
    (26) Comment: Many commenters expressed concern that the Hawaiian
hawk's range is limited to a single island. Some of these commenters
felt because the Hawaiian hawk's range once may have included other
Hawaiian islands, it should be reestablished on these islands before
being considered for future status change.
    Our Response: Although the Hawaiian hawk may have once occurred on
other Hawaiian islands, there are no quantitative data to show an
actual range contraction or decrease in population abundance.
Additionally, there is no evidence that a breeding population of
Hawaiian hawks once existed on another island, and introducing a
predator to an ecosystem in which it was not naturally occurring may
result in negative consequences to other native species. See also our
responses to Comments (5) and (25). Because we do not believe that the
historical range of the Hawaiian hawk included other islands, we do not
find it appropriate to reintroduce Hawaiian hawks outside of its known
native range. In addition, the species no longer meets the definition
of an endangered species or a threatened species.
    (27) Comment: Several commenters stated that because of differences
among population estimates, and the wide confidence intervals for
these, that Hawaiian hawks should not be considered for delisting.
    Our Response: Although the earliest surveys were conducted using
some methods that may have contributed to inaccuracies in the
population estimates and later surveys have wide confidence intervals,
early population survey results consistently indicate the Hawaiian hawk
population remained between 2,000 and 2,500 individuals between 1983
and 1997, while the more recent survey data from 1998 and 2007-2008
indicate that the Hawaiian hawk has maintained a self-sustaining
population of approximately 3,000 individuals for approximately 10
years. In order to clarify the trends in population status, we added
language under Species Information. Additionally, we based our analysis
on the five factors outlined in section 4 of the Act, as discussed in
this rule under Summary of Factors Affecting the Species.
    (28) Comment: Several commenters said the Hawaiian hawk is an
aumakua, or family guardian, for some Hawaiian families. Many
commenters felt it inappropriate to delist the Hawaiian hawk because it
is culturally important to native Hawaiians and should, therefore,
retain protections under the Act.
    Our Response: We acknowledge and appreciate the cultural importance
of the Hawaiian hawk to the Hawaiian people. Although the cultural and
spiritual significance of a species listed under the Act is not part of
the five-factor analysis we must employ when evaluating species for a
possible change in listing status, we carefully assess the best
scientific and commercial data available regarding the status of the
species to make our listing determination.
    (29) Comment: Many commenters stated that there are insufficient
data to delist the Hawaiian hawk.
    Our Response: After reviewing the best available scientific and
commercial data, we conclude that the Hawaiian hawk has recovered such
that it does not meet the definition of a threatened species or
endangered species. The Hawaiian hawk was likely more abundant at the
time of listing than data at that time indicated, and the species has
maintained a stable population of approximately 3,000 individuals for
decades. Additionally, there are increasingly more conservation efforts
that have been implemented on the island of Hawaii and across the
State, as well as increasingly more lands set aside for conservation in
perpetuity. The Hawaiian hawk will continue to be monitored as outlined
in the PDM plan, which has been updated after undergoing peer review.
    (30) Comment: A few commenters stated that this rule is arbitrary
and capricious.
    Our Response: We based our proposed rule and this rule on the best
scientific and commercially available data, and we sought peer review
and public comment on the proposed rule during five comment periods,
over a total of 270 days. The cumulative data suggest that the Hawaiian
hawk's viability is not currently threatened by any of the five factors
outlined in section 4(a)(1) of the Act and currently maintains a self-
sustaining population.
    (31) Comment: Two commenters stated the PDM plan is weak, one
noting further that it does not address delisting criteria.
    Our Response: Based on peer review and other relevant comments, we
have revised the PDM plan to include habitat monitoring. According to
the updated 2018 PDM plan guidance co-authored by the Service and the
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, post-delisting monitoring
refers to activities undertaken to verify that a species delisted due
to recovery remains secure from risk of extinction after the
protections of the Act no longer apply. The primary goal is to monitor
the species to ensure the status does not deteriorate, and if a
substantial decline in the species (number of individuals or
populations) or an increase in threats is detected, to take measures to
halt the decline so that re-proposing it as endangered or threatened is
not needed.
    The Act does not require the development of a formal PDM plan.
However, the Service finds that planning documents substantially
contribute to the effective implementation of section 4(g) of the Act
by guiding collection and evaluation of pertinent information over the
monitoring period and articulating the associated funding needs. If
post-delisting monitoring detects a significant decline in the Hawaiian
hawk population, or a significant change in habitat so that it would
not support a self-sustaining Hawaiian hawk population, relisting may
be warranted. For additional discussion, see Future Conservation
Measures, below. For information on how to view the updated PDM plan,
see Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Overview, below.
    (32) One commenter stated there is not enough biosecurity in Hawaii
to protect the Hawaiian hawk from introduced harmful nonnative species
and diseases.
    Our Response: Biosecurity is an ongoing challenge in Hawaii;
however, biosecurity is not currently considered a threat to the
Hawaiian hawk. See our discussions in this rule under Recovery Plan
Implementation, Factor C, and Factor D.
    (33) Comment: One commenter expressed concern over predation of
Hawaiian hawks by nonnative animals such rats, mice, cats, and
mongooses.
    Our Response: Hawaiian hawks are top predators, and most nonnative
species that are predators of other native animal species are actually
prey to Hawaiian hawks (e.g., rats, mice, mongoose). Cats (domestic and
feral) are the exception; however, data indicate that cats are not
currently a factor impeding Hawaiian hawk population success. Please
see our discussion above under Factor C.
    (34) Comment: One commenter stated that there are inadequate
regulatory mechanisms, and therefore, the Hawaiian hawk should not be
delisted.
[[Page 186]]
    Our Response: Regulatory mechanisms are only needed if other
factors are found to threaten the continued existence of the species.
Because we have determined that no threats remain that would endanger
the Hawaiian hawk, either now or in the future, we find that the
existing regulatory mechanism are adequate to protect the Hawaiian hawk
in the absence of the Act's protections. Please see our discussion
above under Factor D.
    (35) Comment: One commenter expressed concern that little fire ants
are blinding Hawaiian hawks.
    Our Response: The nonnative little fire ant has spread across the
island of Hawaii (Lee et al. 2015, p. 100; Hawaii Invasive Species
Council. 2019b), and little fire ants are known to cause significant
injuries and developmental problems in adults and chicks of ground-
nesting seabirds and other species of ground-nesting birds (Plentovich
2019, in litt.). Because little fire ants climb, and sometimes nest, in
trees, they could potentially harm a Hawaiian hawk. However, we are
unaware of any blinding of Hawaiian hawks by little fire ants, or any
other harm to hawks caused by little fire ants. The post-delisting
status of Hawaiian hawks will be monitored as outlined in the PDM plan.
    (36) Comment: One commenter stated that the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act (MBTA) is not as efficient as the Endangered Species Act and
expressed concern that decreased protections for Hawaiian hawks will
result in intentional harm to them.
    Our Response: The MBTA implements various treaties and conventions
between the United States and Canada, Japan, Mexico, and the former
Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds. Under the MBTA,
taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds is unlawful. Unless
allowed by regulations, the MBTA provides that it is unlawful to
pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill,
possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to
purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause
to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation,
transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or
receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any
migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, or any
product, whether or not manufactured.
    To enforce the MBTA, authorized Department of the Interior
employees may: Without a warrant, arrest a person violating the MBTA in
the employee's presence or view; execute a warrant or other process
issued by an officer or court to enforce the MBTA; and search any place
with a warrant. All birds, parts, nests or eggs that are captured,
killed, taken, offered or sold, bartered, purchased, shipped,
transported, carried, imported, exported, or possessed contrary to the
MBTA will be seized and, upon conviction of the offender or upon court
judgment, be forfeited to the United States and disposed of by the
Secretary (see 16 U.S.C. 706).
    According to the MBTA at 16 U.S.C. 707, a person, association,
partnership, or corporation that violates the MBTA or its regulations
is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $15,000, jail
up to 6 months, or both. Anyone who knowingly takes a migratory bird
and intends to, offers to, or actually sells or barters the bird is
guilty of a felony, with fines up to $2,000, jail up to 2 years, or
both. All guns, traps, nets, vessels, vehicles, and other equipment
used in pursuing, hunting, taking, trapping, ensnaring, capturing,
killing, or any attempt on a migratory bird in violation of the MBTA
with the intent to sell or barter, must be forfeited to the United
States and may be seized and held pending prosecution of the violator.
The property is to be disposed of and accounted for by the Secretary.
    (37) Comment: One commenter expressed concern that Hawaiian hawks
will be negatively impacted by sea level rise resulting from climate
change.
    Our Response: Hawaiian hawks occur across the island of Hawaii,
which is the largest of all the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii is so large
that all of the other Hawaiian islands could fit into the boundaries of
the island. Hawaiian hawks nest in forested areas, which are usually
away from the coastline (approximately between 100 ft (30 m) above sea
level to 5,578 ft (1,700 m) elevation) (Griffin 1985, p. 69-71).
Further, under a scenario in which sea-level rise reaches 6 ft (1.8 m),
we estimate only 0.1 percent (1830 ac (741 ha) of 1,422,132 ac (575517
ha) of Hawaiian hawk habitat will be lost (Harrington 2019, in litt.).
Although Hawaiian hawks may forage near the coast, it is unlikely that
sea level rise will have any negative impacts on Hawaiian hawks in the
foreseeable future.
    (38) Comment: One commenter stated that the recovery plan criteria
have not been met, and that the Service never produced delisting
criteria in the recovery plan or PDM plan. This commenter also stated
that we did not adhere to either the Act or Administrative Procedure
Act.
    Our Response: As discussed under Recovery Plan Implementation, the
recovery criteria for downlisting have all been met. Although criteria
for delisting were not included in the recovery plan, a species may be
delisted if it no longer meets the definition of an endangered species
or a threatened species under the Act, whether or not all of the
recovery criteria or action items in a PDM plan are completed. Further,
recovery plans and PDM plans are guidance documents. The Hawaiian hawk
is more abundant than previously thought at the time of listing. More
refined survey, modeling, and other analytical computer programs have
enhanced our understanding of the Hawaiian hawk population. Although
the Hawaiian hawk occurs on a single island, it is a very large island
and the hawk's range encompasses most of it. We held five comment
periods, the most recent in 2018, to obtain new information to inform
our final determination. We did not receive any new data, from any of
the five comment periods or two public hearings, that indicate the
Hawaiian hawk's status meets the Act's definition of endangered species
or the Act's definition of threatened species. If future data or
event(s) change this status, we will re-evaluate the status of the
Hawaiian hawk. Otherwise, we will monitor the species as described in
the final PDM plan.
Determination of Hawaiian Hawk Status
    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing
regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for determining
whether a species meets the definition of ``endangered species'' or
``threatened species.'' The Act defines an ``endangered species'' as
any species that is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a
significant portion of its range'' and a ``threatened species'' as any
species that is ``likely to become an endangered species within the
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its
range.'' The Act requires that we determine whether a species meets the
definition of ``endangered species'' or ``threatened species'' because
of any of the following factors: (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
[[Page 187]]
manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
Status Throughout All of Its Range
    After evaluating threats to the species and assessing the
cumulative effect of the threats under the section 4(a)(1) factors, we
reviewed the information available in our files and other available
published and unpublished information, and we consulted with recognized
experts and other Federal, State, and Native Hawaiian organizations.
Due to implementation of recovery actions and other conservation
efforts that have facilitated a better understanding of the Hawaiian
hawk's ecology and threats, we have learned that the Hawaiian hawk is
broadly distributed throughout the island of Hawaii, has been stable in
number for at least 30 years, nests and forages successfully in both
native and altered habitats, and has large areas of habitat in
protected status. The Hawaiian hawk is not currently threatened by
habitat loss or degradation, overutilization, disease, predation, lack
of adequate regulatory mechanisms, or other factors. Thus, after
assessing the best available information, we conclude that the Hawaiian
hawk is not in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.
    Having found that the Hawaiian hawk is not in danger of extinction
throughout its range, we next evaluated whether the species is in
danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout its range.
Under the Act, a threatened species is any species that is ``likely to
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout
all or a significant portion of its range.'' 15 U.S.C. 15532(20).
    The Act does not define the term ``foreseeable future.'' Our
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d) set forth a framework
within which we evaluate the foreseeable future on a case-by-case
basis. The term foreseeable future extends only so far into the future
as the Services can reasonably determine that both the future threats
and the species' responses to those threats are likely. Analysis of the
foreseeable future uses the best scientific and commercial data
available and considers the timeframes applicable to the relevant
threats and to the species' likely responses to those threats in view
of its life-history characteristics. While historically Hawaiian hawk
have been affected by various threats, as outlined, under the Summary
of Factors Affecting the Species, most of the threats have been
ameliorated or are no longer thought to be threats.
    The threats with the potential to cause population declines relate
to habitat loss due to human population growth and its associated
development, and invasive plants, such as strawberry guava. Hawaii
County projected human growth rate from 2010 to 2040 to be 1.6 percent
growth annually; however, the annual average growth rate from 2010
through 2017 was just 1.1 percent (Hawaii Department of Business,
Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) 2018, in litt.). We found this
level of population growth and associated development not to be an
imminent threat. In addition, the current successful management of
strawberry guava which involves use of the biocontrol agent,
Tectococcus ovatus is expected to result in a noticeable decrease in
the spread of strawberry guava in the future. We conclude there is a
reasonable likelihood of these trends continuing at least over the next
20 years, which we consider the foreseeable future for the Hawaiian
hawk.
Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range
    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may
warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so
in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of
its range (SPR). Where the best available information allows the
Services to determine a status for the species rangewide, that
determination should be given conclusive weight because a rangewide
determination of status more accurately reflects the species' degree of
imperilment and better promotes the purposes of the Act. Under this
reading, we should first consider whether the species warrants listing
``throughout all'' of its range and proceed to conduct a ``significant
portion of its range'' analysis if, and only if, a species does not
qualify for listing as either an endangered or a threatened species
according to the ``throughout all'' language.
    Having determined that the Hawaiian hawk is not in danger of
extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout
all of its range, we now consider whether it may be in danger of
extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future in an SPR.
The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an
infinite number of ways, so we first screen the potential portions of
the species' range to determine if there are any portions that warrant
further consideration. To do the ``screening'' analysis, we ask whether
there are portions of the species' range for which there is substantial
information indicating that: (1) The portion may be significant; and
(2) the species may be, in that portion, either in danger of extinction
or likely to become so in the foreseeable future. For a particular
portion, if we cannot answer both questions in the affirmative, then
that portion does not warrant further consideration and the species
does not warrant listing because of its status in that portion of its
range. We emphasize that answering these questions in the affirmative
is not a determination that the species is in danger of extinction or
likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout a significant
portion of its range--rather, it is a step in determining whether a
more detailed analysis of the issue is required.
    If we answer these questions in the affirmative, we then conduct a
more thorough analysis to determine whether the portion does indeed
meet both of the SPR prongs: (1) The portion is significant; and (2)
the species is, in that portion, either in danger of extinction or
likely to become so in the foreseeable future. Confirmation that a
portion does indeed meet one of these prongs does not create a
presumption, prejudgment, or other determination as to whether the
species is an endangered species or threatened species. Rather, we must
then undertake a more detailed analysis of the other prong to make that
determination. Only if the portion does indeed meet both SPR prongs
would the species warrant listing because of its status in a
significant portion of its range.
    At both stages in this process--the stage of screening potential
portions to identify any portions that warrant further consideration
and the stage of undertaking the more detailed analysis of any portions
that do warrant further consideration--it might be more efficient for
us to address the ``significance'' question or the ``status'' question
first. Our selection of which question to address first for a
particular portion depends on the biology of the species, its range,
and the threats it faces. Regardless of which question we address
first, if we reach a negative answer with respect to the first question
that we address, we do not need to evaluate the second question for
that portion of the species' range.
    For the Hawaiian hawk, we chose to evaluate the status question
(i.e., identifying portions where the Hawaiian hawk may be in danger of
extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future) first. To
conduct this screening, we considered whether the threats are
geographically concentrated in any portion of the species' range at a
biologically meaningful scale.
[[Page 188]]
    We examined the following threats: Habitat destruction or
modification (urbanization, agriculture, nonnative plant and animal
species, fire, drought, climate change, ROD); overutilization of the
species for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational
purposes (shooting); disease (avian pox, avian malaria) or predation
(nonnative rats, mice, mongoose, cats, dogs); inadequate regulatory
mechanisms; and other natural or manmade factors (small range, single
island endemism, contaminants and pesticides), including cumulative
effects. We found no concentration of threats in any portion of the
Hawaiian hawk's range at a biologically meaningful scale.
    If both (1) a species is not in danger of extinction or likely to
become so in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range and (2)
the threats to the species are essentially uniform throughout its
range, then the species could not be in danger of extinction or likely
to become so in the foreseeable future in any biologically meaningful
portion of its range. For the Hawaiian hawk, we found both: The species
is not in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the
foreseeable future throughout all of its range, and there is no
geographical concentration of threats so the threats to the species are
essentially uniform throughout its range. Therefore, no portions
warrant further consideration through a more detailed analysis, and the
species is not in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the
foreseeable future in any significant portion of its range. Our
approach to analyzing SPR in this determination is consistent with the
court's holding in Desert Survivors v. Department of the Interior, No.
16-cv-01165-JCS, 2018 WL 4053447 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018).
Determination of Status
    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial
information indicates that the Hawaiian hawk does not meet the
definition of an endangered species or a threatened species in
accordance with sections 3(6) and 3(20) of the Act. Therefore, we are
delisting the Hawaiian hawk from the List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife.
Future Conservation Measures
    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 recovered and delisted. Although section
4(g) of the Act explicitly requires cooperation with the States in
development and implementation of PDM programs, we remain responsible
for compliance with section 4(g) and, therefore, must remain actively
engaged in all phases of post-delisting monitoring (PDM). We also seek
active participation of other entities that are expected to assume
responsibilities for the species' conservation, post-delisting. The
purpose of this PDM is to verify that a species remains secure from
risk of extinction after the protections of the Act are removed, by
developing a program that detects the failure of any delisted species
to sustain itself. 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.
Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Overview
    The Service developed a final PDM plan in cooperation with the
Hawaii DLNR, DOFAW. In addition, DOFAW, the National Park Service
(NPS), and USGS agreed to cooperate with us in the implementation of
the PDM plan. The PDM plan is designed to verify that the Hawaiian hawk
remains secure from the risk of extinction after delisting by detecting
changes in its status and habitat throughout its known range. The final
PDM plan consists of: (1) A summary of the species' status at the time
of delisting; (2) an outline of the roles of PDM cooperators; (3)
identification of what will be monitored (e.g., demographics, threats,
species' response to threats); (4) a description of monitoring methods;
(5) an outline of the frequency and duration of monitoring; (6) an
outline of data compilation and reporting procedures; and (7) a
definition of thresholds or triggers for potential monitoring outcomes
and conclusions of the PDM effort.
    The PDM plan guides monitoring of the Hawaiian hawk population
following the same sampling protocol used by the Service prior to
delisting. Monitoring will consist of three components: Hawaiian hawk
distribution and abundance, potential adverse changes to Hawaiian hawk
habitat due to environmental or anthropogenic factors, and the
distribution of nonnative plants in Hawaiian hawk habitats. The PDM
period consists of five 5-year cycles, which will begin in 2024.
Monitoring through this time period will allow us to address any
possible negative effects to Hawaiian hawks associated with changes to
their habitat. As funding allows, we will collect data on Hawaiian
hawks across the island of Hawaii, which will allow time to observe
fluctuations in population abundance that may be attributed to residual
stressors.
    The PDM plan identifies measurable management thresholds and
responses for detecting and reacting to significant changes in Hawaiian
hawk habitat, distribution, and persistence. If monitoring detects
declines equaling or exceeding these thresholds, the Service in
combination with other PDM participants will investigate causes of
these declines, including considerations of habitat changes,
substantial human persecution, stochastic events, or any other
significant evidence. Such investigation will determine if the Hawaiian
hawk warrants expanded monitoring, additional research, additional
habitat protection, or relisting as an endangered or a threatened
species under the Act. If relisting the Hawaiian hawk is warranted,
emergency procedures to relist the species may be followed, if
necessary, in accordance with section 4(b)(7) of the Act.
    We will post the final PDM plan and any future revisions on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024 and on the
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office's website (http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/).
Effects of the Rule
    This rule revises 50 CFR 17.11(h) by removing the Hawaiian hawk
from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. As such,
as of the effective date of this rule (see DATES), the prohibitions and
conservation measures provided by the Act, particularly through
sections 7 and 9, no longer apply to this species (including those
contained in any existing conservation agreements, all safe harbor
agreements, and all biological opinions for this species). There are no
habitat conservation plans related to the Hawaiian hawk. Removal of the
Hawaiian hawk from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife relieves Federal agencies from the need to consult with us
under section 7 of the Act to ensure that any action they authorize,
fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence
of this species. There is no critical habitat designated for this
species.
    The Hawaiian hawk continues to be protected under the Migratory
Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), CITES (Article IV), and State of
Hawaii law (HRS 195-1).
[[Page 189]]
Required Determinations
National Environmental Policy Act
    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental
impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be
prepared in connection with regulations pursuant to section 4(a) of the
Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination
in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).
References Cited
    A complete list of all references cited in this rule is available
at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2007-0024, or
upon request from the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see
ADDRESSES).
Authors
    The primary authors of this rule are staff members of the Service's
Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see ADDRESSES) and Pacific
Regional Office, Portland, Oregon.
List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17
    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.
Regulation Promulgation
    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50
of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:
PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS
0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:
    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245,
unless otherwise noted.
Sec.  17.11  [Amended]
0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry for ``Hawk, Hawaiian''
under BIRDS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
    Dated: November 21, 2019.
Margaret E. Everson,
Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising
the Authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-27339 Filed 12-31-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P