PRINCEVILLE — An unwelcome visitor was reported on Kauai’s North Shore over the weekend, and it’s triggered an investigation from the Kauai Invasive Species Committee.
By Tuesday afternoon, rumors of seven mongoose sightings surfaced in Princeville and the surrounding area, and KISC investigators were on scene, taking statements.
But, it seems the seven sightings may have been traced to a single animal, at least for now, according to Bill Lucey of KISC.
“We will be putting up fliers tomorrow (today) to try and get folks to keep an eye out,” Lucey said.
KISC is also looking for tracks and other indicators of mongoose presence in Princeville.
The state Department of Agriculture, which also responds to invasive species sightings on Kauai, did not return requests for comment before press time.
The KISC investigation was triggered by a sighting reported Sunday to Rory Enright, general manager of the Princeville Community Association.
“(Princeville Community Association) Patrol called me at home after they called the response groups,” Enright said. “So I said, ‘Let’s go out and see if we can spot where it is.’”
The weekend threw a kink in response time, according to KISC and Enright, but by Tuesday investigators were on scene and following up.
“They’re out here today looking at the area and interviewing the person who saw it,” Enright said.
Mongoose were brought to Hawaii in 1883 in an attempt to control rats in sugar cane fields. The species is established throughout Hawaii, except for the islands of Lanai and Kauai.
It is considered a threat because mongoose prey on birds and bird and turtle eggs and can be carriers of deadly diseases like leptospirosis.
Three mongooses have been captured on Kauai, though there have been multiple reports of sightings over the years. One of the first confirmed findings was a lactating female found dead on Kaumualii Highway, close to Kalaheo in 1976.
Reported sightings went dormant for a few years after the 1976 sighting, until 2012 when two were captured — one at Nawiliwili Harbor and a male at Kauai Lagoons resort in Lihue.
The third was a young male captured at Lihue Airport in October 2016. That mongoose ran out of an Aloha Air Cargo shipment of bread from Oahu. Airport personnel tracked the animal until state DOA personnel captured it.
Officials generally have snap traps and live traps set up at the two shipping ports at Nawiliwili Harbor to catch mongoose on Kauai. Extra traps are on hand for events like the sightings in Princeville.
“They’re setting up traps here just in case,” Enright said, “but we’re hoping it wasn’t a mongoose that they saw.”
Mongoose generally hitchhike to Kauai through cargo shipments coming in by plane or boat, according to KISC, and usually travel in a 2-mile radius from where they were first seen.
Sightings can be reported to HDOA at 643-PEST or KISC at 821-1490.