HANAPEPE — A young pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl that tangled with a vehicle in late March has died after being hit by another vehicle two months after it was rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
And it’s not the only one.
Two more were found dead on Kauai’s roads on the same day, according to a press release from the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The rehabilitated pueo was found on the side of the road in Eleele, where it had been struck by a car, according to DLNR. It was originally found on March 22 by Andre Raine of the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project.
“This is a sad end to a successful rehabilitation story,” Raine said. “Tragically, as with so many of our endangered native birds, the pueo was struck again by an automobile — this time fatally.”
When the bird was found in March, Raine took it to the Save Our Shearwaters rehabilitation center, where it recovered with the help of Hawaii Wildlife Center staff members. Staff members with those entities nursed the bird back to health and released it in late April.
It was found recently six miles from the release location and was in good body condition, which means the bird had been hunting and feeding successfully, according to DLNR.
Tracy Anderson, of SOS, examined the dead owl and confirmed injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle.
Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people, according to DLNR.
“The act of throwing trash out your car window not only impacts the environment visually, but can have direct and detrimental effects on wild birds like pueo and nene,” Anderson said.
In addition to the three endemic Hawaiian owls found dead on Kauai’s roads, another pueo was discovered on Oahu earlier this year and couldn’t be rehabilitated after sustaining injuries from a car collision.
“The death of the owls serves as a reminder for those who drive on Kauai’s roads to slow down and be aware of owls, nene, fledgling seabirds and other birds that may be feeding or flying alongside or near roads and highways,” Raine said.