Report: Swift action needed to save Hawaiian honeycreepers from extinction

Akikiki(C Robby Kohley)
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 5:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of research, a new report warns that mosquitoes could soon wipe out Hawaii’s endangered honeycreepers.

“All four species will likely go extinct in the next two to 10 years, unless something is done to prevent the spread of avian disease,” said Dr. Robert Reed, deputy Director of the USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center.

Experts say there are only 45 akikiki left on Kauai and about 135 kiwikiu on Maui.

And they say the akeke’e and akohekohe have also lost more than half their usual range as climate change pushes mosquitoes into higher elevations.

Scientists say it only takes one bite to kill a bird.

Their solution is to infect mosquitoes with a bacteria that makes them unable to reproduce.

“What we want to do is take male mosquitoes and put a different strain of abarca into them,” said David Smith, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife administrator.

“And so you have to keep doing it. But it’s a chance to flood the market with basically sterile males and then you don’t get offspring.”

In addition to mosquito control.. the report also recommends captivity and relocation programs.

DLNR says it will seek public feedback on any future policies.

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