Ōpeʻapeʻa Bat Designated Official Hawaiʻi Land MammalApril 22, 2015, 3:13 PM HST · Updated April 22, 3:59 PM 0 Comments
By Maui Now Staff
Governor David Ige signed a bill into law today, declaring the ōpe‘ape‘a or Hawaiian hoary bat as the official state land mammal in Hawaiʻi.
The bat joins the list of other official state animals, which already includes: the pulelehua or Kamehameha butterfly (as the state insect), nene goose (the state bird), humpback whale (the state’s marine mammal), monk seal (Hawaii’s mammal) and humuhumunukunukuapua‘a (the state fish).
The ōpe‘ape‘a is Hawai‘i’s only native land mammal, and is a subspecies found only in Hawai‘i. Fossils reveal its presence in Hawai‘i as early as 10,000 years ago.
The designation was outlined in Senate Bill 1183, affectionately referred to as “the bat bill.”
Proponents of the legislation say they hope the designation will help to raise awareness around preserving the forests of Hawaiʻi, where the ōpe‘ape‘a is known to roost in kukui and ʻōhiʻa trees.
The ōpe‘ape‘a is listed as an endangered species by the federal US Fish and Wildlife Service, and by the state. According to information released by the governor’s office, deforestation and collision with man-made structures like wind turbines and barbed wire fences pose a threat to the ōpe‘ape‘a population.
Senator Sam Slom, who introduced the bill said, “The ōpe‘ape‘a is worthy of the title of state land mammal because it has been here for so long, and faithfully provides free pest control services to us all. Most importantly, this bipartisan effort to elevate the bat’s status to state land mammal will increase awareness of the environmental issues affecting its survival.”