Protecting petrels

LIHUE — Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is seeking public comment on proposed management actions aimed at preventing the local extinction of the Hawaiian petrel, also known as the ‘Ua’u, a federally endangered seabird that is endemic to Hawaii.

Last year, a predator-proof fence was constructed on the refuge to serve as a future nesting site for Hawaiian petrels and other listed seabirds. The proposed management actions in the draft environmental assessment represent the next steps in restoring the area within the Nihoku fence and providing additional protection for the birds.

Hawaiian petrel populations are declining due to power line collisions, fallout associated with light attraction, habitat loss and predators.

Prior to 1967, when the bird was listed as an endangered species, Hawaiian petrels were widespread throughout the islands. Today, the bird breeds on Kauai, the Big Island, Maui and Lanai with a small unconfirmed colony on Molokai. There are an estimated 6,500 to 8,300 pairs with an overall population of about 19,000.

From 1990 to the 2000s, the islandwide breeding population on Kauai was estimated as high as 1,600 pairs based on the numbers of birds flying onshore near dusk, primarily along the North Shore of the island. There are an estimated at 1,200 pairs as of 2009.

The DEA presents a review of the conservation efforts to date to protect the Hawaiian petrel population on Kauai, examines a range of alternative management measures and analyzes possible environmental effects of the alternatives. It also serves as the basis for a decision by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The DEA is available for public review and comment at http://www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint. Printed copies may be requested by contacting Mike Mitchell, deputy refuge manager, at (808) 828-1413 or by email at michael_mitchell@fws.gov.

The deadline for public comment is Aug. 20. Comments can be submitted to the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 1128, Kilauea, HI 96754, Attention: ‘Ua‘u (Hawaiian petrel) management, or by email at FW1planningcomments@fws.gov with “‘Ua‘u (Hawaiian petrel) management DEA” in the subject line.

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