Suit filed over list
excluding rare flies
Picture-wings merit endangered species
protection, a wildlife group maintains
A wildlife group has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over failing to list 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies as endangered, saying the agency should have placed the insects on the list more than three years ago.
The service first proposed protection of the Hawaiian picture-wings on Jan. 17, 2001. Under the Endangered Species Act, the government had one year to place them on the Endangered Species List and to designate critical habitat for the Hawaiian picture-wings, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
In the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., the center says the service violated the act by failing to list the 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wings.
Barbara Maxfield, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu, said yesterday that she had not seen the lawsuit and declined comment.
Hawaiian picture-wings are two to three times the size of a common housefly and are distinguished by elaborate markings on their clear wings.
"It's much larger, much more beautiful than the common housefly," said Kieran Suckling, policy director for the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity.
Although there are 110 species of Hawaiian picture-wings today, researchers found a sufficient enough decline in 12 species to list them as endangered, according to Kenneth Kaneshiro, director of the Center for Conservation Research and Training at the University of Hawaii, who helped put together the original list.
"All of these probably arose from a single founder that arrived 5 million years ago," Kaneshiro said.
Hawaiian picture-wings are found in native vegetation at cooler elevations of about 3,000 feet, Kaneshiro said.
Half of the 12 picture-wing species proposed for the list are found on Oahu, while three are on the Big Island, including the nalo kihikihi, known as the "hammerhead" because the males have a long, narrow head like a hammerhead shark. One species each is found on Kauai, Molokai and Maui, according to the center.
But hikers and those who live in Hawaii's mountains may never see them, he said.
"For the most part, even if you were looking for them it might be difficult to see them," he said. "We have to use special baits. You have to be able to know where to place the baits in order to attract them."
Maxfield noted that the federal agency's funding for endangered species listings has declined in recent years.