The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources completed an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for a pilot release of alala on East Maui, according to a news release. 

Alala, also known as the Hawaiian crow, are intelligent birds unique to Hawaii. Unfortunately, their wild population disappeared due to invasive predators, mosquito-borne diseases, habitat loss and other reasons. The last pair of alala were seen in the wild in South Kona in 2002.   

Now, alala only live in conservation breeding programs on Maui and Hawaii Island. In 2016, the captive birds were released into the wild on Hawaii Island. However, most of the birds were killed by io, also known as the Hawaiian hawk, another native bird. 

The Alala Project, a partnership between USFWS, DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, is hoping to release alala on east Maui where there aren’t any io. 

The pilot release will allow wildlife managers an opportunity to evaluate alala’s potential for survival and ability to breed in East Maui. Alala eat and disperse seeds that support native plants, so their release in East Maui may help with the recovery of native forests. 

A USFWS spokesperson told Spectrum News that they hope to release the alala in early April, but the date is still tenative. 

The Environmental Assessment provides information about alala, outlines the proposal, examines potential impacts and explores strategies to avoid adverse impacts on East Maui. It includes consideration from public comments made during two separate 30-day periods. The government document also evaluates Kipahulu Forest Reserve and Koolau Forest Reserve as potential release sites, including impacts to adjacent private and National Park Service lands. 

Michelle Broder Van Dyke covers the Hawaiian Islands for Spectrum News Hawaii. Email her at