LIHUE — The best way for pet owners to protect Kauai’s native and endangered birds is to keep their cats and dogs under control at all times.
“People should not allow their cats outside and should keep their dogs on leashes anywhere on the island,” said Andre Raine of the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project.
Earlier this month a stray dog killed 33 adult wedge-tailed shearwaters in a colony at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands.
The dog, a mixed-breed hound, was later euthanized.
Four chicks and two eggs are now under the care of Save Our Shearwaters as a result of the incident. And it’s not unusual.
“DOFAW (the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife) gets reports of large-scale kills in coastal seabird colonies every year, at multiple locations,” Raine said.
And that’s just what’s reported.
It’s impossible to quantify the actual number of bird deaths caused by cats and dogs annually, Raine said.
“They are a very serious threat to seabirds at their colonies, with cats being the worst predator for endangered seabirds in remote colonies and dogs being the worst predators of seabirds at coastal locations,” Raine said.
Both cats and dogs can kill large numbers of breeding adults in a short period of time.
“Cats kill endangered seabirds in very remote parts of the island, such as the mountains in the northwest of Kauai. These areas can be devastating if it (the cat) becomes specialized in targeting seabirds,” Raine said.
He pointed to an incident last year when a cat killed 17 adult Hawaiian petrels in one site at Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve.
“Keeping cats indoors and dogs on leashes is the best thing that responsible pet owners can do,” Raine said.
“It keeps our native and endangered wildlife safe and keeps much-loved pets safe from being run over by cars and being exposed to all of the other threats that pets face outdoors.”