Michael Hawkes, a 25-year veteran with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arrives today to replace former Refuge Manager Tom Alexander.
Alexander is taking over Hawkes’ position as the refuge manager at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona.
“When I heard Tom wanted to return to the mainland to be closer to his family, I jumped at the opportunity to come to Kaua’i,” Hawkes said. “My wife and I visited the islands an our honeymoon, and like many others, fell in love with them. I truly look forward to playing a role in protecting Kaua’i’s significant natural and historical resources.”
Hawkes will lead Fish and Wildlife Service activities at the three national wildlife refuges on Kaua’i at Kilauea Point, in Hanalei Valley and along the Hule’ia River.
Kilauea Point is one of the most visited national wildlife refuges in the nation, with about 350,000 people stopping by each year.
Hawkes managed Cibola National Wildlife Refuge along the Colorado River for almost four years. The site is a wintering ground for an average of 16,000 Canada geese, 15,000 ducks, and 1,000 greater sandhill cranes, as well as neotropical migratory songbirds. It also provides habitat for several endangered species, including the Yuma clapper rail, desert tortoise, and razorback sucker.
“I’m. trading Canada geese for nene and mallards for koloa, and hunting opportunities for a historic lighthouse,” said Hawkes. “But the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System remains the same for all 535 refuges. We’re here to conserve, manage, and restore wildlife and their habitats so that future generations will still be able to enjoy them.”
Prior to working at Cibola, Hawkes served at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, Koloa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, Salt Plains and Washita National Wildlife Refuges in Oklahoma, Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, and Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Washington.
Hawkes will be joined by his wife, wildlife biologist Brenda Zaun, later this year.
Alexander left Kaua’i last week after managing the island’s refuges for the past seven years. He oversaw the reopening of Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge after Hurricane ‘Iniki; the clearing of a parking area, trail and overlook at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge; and reintroduction of nene to Hanalei during his tenure.