USFWS breaks ground on first predator-proof fence

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Nihoku, also known as Crater Hill, this week within the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge in preparation for the construction of Kauai’s first predator-proof fence.

The project will create a seven-acre refugium for native plant and animal communities, and enhance existing seabird colonies on the refuge by using the latest technology in predator-proof fencing. This type of fencing has been used with success in New Zealand and on Oahu.

“We are excited to have this blessing and begin work with our partners toward construction of the fence,” said Shannon Smith, project leader of the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The construction of a predator-proof fence is expected to keep mammalian predators — such as cats, dogs, rats, mice and potentially mongooses — out of the fenced area so that native species such as the endangered Hawaiian goose, Laysan albatross and rare plants.

In addition, the absence of predators would make this restored site appropriate for future translocation of the threatened ‘a‘o (Newell’s shearwater) and the reintroduction of rare native plants.

The project will cost about $500,000 and construction is expected to take three months.

Partners for the project include the American Bird Conservancy, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and several others.

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