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Hawaii gets $14M in federal funding to help forest birds

May 17, 2022 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is on course to receive $14 million in federal funding to help protect endangered forest birds and other species, officials said Monday.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, a Democrat from Hawaii, said the funding will help the state fight mosquitoes that threaten birds found nowhere else in the world.

There are an estimated 45 ’akikiki left on Kauai and 135 kiwikiu remaining on Maui, said Lainie Berry, the wildlife program manager for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“This tremendous level of additional federal dollars will go a long way toward supplementing and increasing earnest efforts already in place to save these species; as well as the ‘akeke‘e and ʻākohekohe, whose wild population numbers are slightly higher,” Berry said.

Avian malaria carried by mosquitoes is wiping out Hawaii’s forest birds. Neither the disease nor the mosquitoes that carry them are native to Hawaii.

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An April report from federal and state conservation officials concluded the birds have grim prospects without intervention.

There are fewer of these birds compared to the last two decades, and even years. Their available range has been significantly reduced as species move higher into the mountains to escape mosquitoes.