Federal officials have taken two dozen endangered songbirds from Nihoa in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and moved them to Laysan 650 miles north in the hope they will establish a new population there and prevent the extinction of the species.
Nihoa Millerbirds are currently only found on Nihoa, where there is a population numbering between 500 and 700. A related subspecies once lived on Laysan but went extinct there after introduced rabbits destroyed the island’s vegetation.
Officials hope establishing a new population will reduce the chances a hurricane or disease outbreak at Nihoa will wipe out the species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its public and private partners moved the birds earlier this month. Officials said Monday the project took five years to plan and cost about $850,000.