MAJORS BAY — A stray dog killed 33 adult wedge-tailed shearwaters in a colony at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai’s Westside in early August.
Four of them, four orphan chicks, and two un-hatched eggs are under the care of Save Our Shearwaters.
“The chicks are doing good,” said Tracy Anderson of Save Our Shearwaters. “But it’s a long-term commitment. They don’t fledge until November, so we have them for a very long time.”
The surviving four adults are in varying stages of health. All were badly injured in the attack and have neurological problems.
One had to be euthanized because its fractures were so severe.
“It’s touch-and-go. We’re unsure if we’ll be able to release the adults yet,” Anderson said.
It’s a waiting game for one of the eggs as well, and staff members with Save Our Shearwaters are waiting to see if it’ll hatch.
The second egg recovered from the scene of the attack is being fostered under a pair of wedge-tailed shearwaters with a non-viable egg. Staff members are monitoring whether that egg will hatch as well.
Visitors staying at PMRF’s cottages found the shearwater remains near the facility’s beach cottage and recreational area on the morning of Aug. 7.
PMRF’s security personnel and natural resources teams responded to the report.
“Upon investigating the area, paw prints and dog droppings were found in the vicinity of the remains,” said PMRF’s Robert Purdy.
The culprit was found the next day, Purdy said, and the dog was turned over to the Kauai Humane Society.
“No reports of further shearwater killings have been reported since the capture of the stray dog,” Purdy said.
Shearwater chicks usually have a parent with them during the first weeks of their lives, and that’s how SOS knew the four chicks and two eggs currently under their care were orphaned.
“Two of them didn’t have a parent with them for over 24 hours, one was in a collapsed burrow and the other was under a dead adult,” Anderson said.
“We know these ones are missing parents and that’s why we have them.”
Policy at PMRF is for residents to leash and supervise pets at all times, and a fenced area is dedicated to help protect Shearwater nesting colonies on the base.
Any nesting burrows found outside the nesting colony are protected by placing a shielding tent over them to ensure they aren’t accidentally stepped on or crushed, said Purdy.
“Conservation of the environment and wildlife are top priorities at PMRF,” he said.
“We take our environmental responsibility seriously and are consistently working to safeguard the environment and wildlife.”