U.S. WILDLIFE AGENCY SEEKS TO SAVE GUAM FRUIT

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BAT
Draft plan outlines effort to revive endangered creature

By Amritha Alladi HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 1, 2010) - Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a draft management plan which outlines ways to revive numbers of the Mariana fruit bat, known as fanihi in Chamorro.

On Guam, fewer than 100 fanihi remain.

According to the federal agency’s Web site, the fanihi is a subspecies of the fruit bat, and is indigenous only to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

"Scientific data indicate that the majority of the fanihi now inhabit the relatively isolated northern islands of the CNMI (islands north of Saipan)," a press release from the wildlife agency stated. "Data collected indicate a 40 percent decline in fruit bat numbers between 1983 and 2000 among the six northern islands that were surveyed."

The fanihi was originally listed as endangered on Guam in 1984, but was later reclassified as threatened as it was considered a subset of the regional population distributed throughout the Marianas.

On Guam, their populations are known to inhabit primarily federal lands -- Andersen Air Force Base and the Ritidian Unit of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge.

Most fanihi now live north of Saipan on relatively isolated islands in the Marianas archipelago.

The decline in fanihi numbers is attributable to habitat loss and degradation along with illegal hunting, according to the wildlife service. Plus, predation by invasive species such as brown tree snakes, rats, and feral cats pose additional threats, the wildlife service reports.

"Fanihi have evolved over thousands of years to adapt to impacts from natural disturbances such as typhoons and volcanic eruptions; however, human-caused threats increase the negative impacts of these natural disturbances on the fanihi population," a press release from the wildlife service stated.

The black-and-brown fruit bat is sometimes called the "flying fox" thanks to its 3-foot wingspan and canine resemblance.

The wildlife service said Tuesday its draft management plan for the species would reduce or eliminate hunting to allow fanihi numbers to increase, and the agency also plans to effectively control the brown tree snake population.

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