Protecting Rare Endemic Seabirds on Kauaʻi
(HONOLULU) – They use technology like radar, acoustic monitoring devices and lasers. They reach into cliff-top burrows to monitor breeding birds and they partner with other organizations to protect the birds from introduced predators like feral cats that attack them. They exemplify partnership by forging relationships with numerous organizations, working together to save endangered seabirds on Kauaʻi from extinction. For their efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recognized the Kauaʻi Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP) with its 2015 Endangered Species Recovery Champions Award.
“Conserving our nation’s imperiled species is one of the toughest challenges of our time,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The recipients of this award have dedicated their lives to this task and we are eternally grateful for their tenacity, dedication and passion for safeguarding hundreds of species of native wildlife and the wild places they call home.”
In announcing the award, a USFWS news release noted, “For more than 10 years, members of the KESRP have demonstrated their dedication, technical expertise, and willingness to forge new partnerships to achieve recovery progress for the federally threatened Newell’s shearwater and endangered Hawaiian petrel. The team has led innovative studies that have greatly improved our knowledge of seabird behavior and species distribution. Further, they have developed new monitoring methods to obtain data on seabird flight heights, concentrations of new breeding areas, and seabird interactions with man-made structures. This information has been vital in helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refine seabird recovery criteria, improve population viability models for these species, and inform decision-making related to habitat conservation plans. Working cooperatively with numerous organizations and stakeholder groups, the team will continue to help these extraordinary species progress toward recovery.
KESRP is administratively attached to the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). DOFAW Administrator Dave Smith said, “This national recognition validates not only the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Andre Raine and the other six members of his team singled out by the USFWS; but of a whole host of county, state, federal, private-sector and non-profit partners who have a shared mission of saving endangered seabirds from the brink of extinction.” Raine’s team includes members contracted to the state by the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.
Dr. Raine explained his project targets three rare seabirds on Kauaʻi: the ‘Aʻo, ‘Uaʻu, and ‘Akeʻake – two of which are currently listed as endangered by the Service and one which is a candidate for listing. “These species face a wide range of threats, and now live only in remote areas of the island. Understanding the threats the birds face, and working on ways to help protect them from these threats, is critical to their long term survival.”