Native seabird chicks eaten by single cat

NA PALI — Over the course of three days in a remote area of the Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve, one cat (photographed on multiple trail cameras) killed at least nine endangered Hawaiian Petrel (‘u‘au) chicks, according to Friday Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources press release.

A team working in the area found the partially eaten month old birds outside their burrows.

“This is a devastating incident for all of us,” Dr. André Raine, Project Coordinator of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project said in the release. “Without active management, cat kills used to be widespread and commonplace in our mountain seabird colonies, but we have seen a huge drop in these incidents in managed colonies in recent years thanks to the hard work and dedication of predator control teams and land managers. However, as this incident clearly shows, just one cat getting into a colony can result in the deaths of a large number of these vulnerable birds in a very short time.”

Hawaiian Petrels are one of three endangered native Hawaiian seabirds found on Kaua‘i. The island is home to around one-third of the world population of this species. Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve is an important area for this species, as well as the endangered Newell’s Shearwater (A’o).

Both species are threatened by non-native predators, including cats, rats and pigs. The birds are also impacted by powerline collisions, light attraction, and loss of breeding habitat.

“Our native birds have no natural defense against mammalian predators because they evolved on these isolated islands without any mammals present. Cats are particularly efficient non-native predators. They kill both breeding adults and chicks, and a single cat is capable of destroying a colony very quickly if it appears when birds are nesting and is not immediately caught,” continued Raine. “It is extremely frustrating in 2020, to still have to talk about mass kills by cats on Kaua‘i. This is not an isolated incident of the impact of cats on our native wildlife as we have also yet again had huge numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters killed at coastal colonies on the south shore and more Hawaiian Monk seals dying of the disease toxoplasmosis, which cats carry.”

Sheri S. Mann, Kaua‘i Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife urged, “Everyone needs to step up and do their part to deal with the issue of feral cats on the landscape. Kaua‘i is a veritable Noah’s Ark for native Hawaiian species and cats have no place roaming freely on the island. They need to be indoors, where they are safe and well cared for, which will protect both the cats and Hawaiian wildlife.”

The impact of cats on native species is the subject matter of a symposium at this year’s Hawai‘i Conservation Conference, which will be held as a virtual conference beginning Tuesday, Sept. 1.

The Symposium, entitled “Cat Crisis – The Challenges of Protecting Native Wildlife from Feral Cats in Hawai‘i” will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 1:15 p.m. and will feature speakers from across the Hawaiian Islands.

9 Comments
  1. Uncleaina August 31, 2020 6:20 am Reply

    Oh gee, thanks Kauai Community Cat Project! Thanks to Animal Balance and Kauai Humane Society too! Without your outdated approaches to feral cat control, this cat might not be around to kill 9 endangered seabirds in just a few days. TNR does not work here! Say it again: TNR doesn’t work here and this is the result- dead native birds. I’ve been saying this exact thing for 15+ years and yet the death continues. Are we still required to pay $90 to even turn in a feral cat? New leadership at KHS is short sighted mainland style ignorance. And thus this Horowitz person is essentially pushing our rare birds into extinction. They’re more worried about feral cats than protecting the last few Hawaiian Petrels on Earth. Destroy Kauai then move back to Santa Barbara or wherever they came from.


    1. Kimberly September 7, 2020 8:42 pm Reply

      Killing feral cats is not the responsibility of KHS. They are a humane society dedicated to saving animals. They are not exterminators. There are private companies that offer that service and the county has hired one to reduce the feral cat population. It’s worth noting that all the euthanized that occurred over the past years did not significantly reduce the cat population.


      1. Kimberly September 7, 2020 8:44 pm Reply

        *euthanasia


  2. Linda August 31, 2020 6:58 am Reply

    Yes, cats are cute & nice but you are correct. They should not be in the wild & roaming freely like they do by Costco. Plus someone is constantly feeding them by putting piles of cat food on the sidewalk (Pikake St). It is so unsanitary with huge snails feeding on them…chickens, too. It should be stopped.


  3. Chamundi Sabanathan August 31, 2020 8:47 am Reply

    I am a cat lover… but it really seems cats should not be here. The spay & neuter program is doing great work, but can cat owners be required to spay or neuter their cats, if this is not already the case? And can people be prevented from bringing cats to the island which are not spayed/neutered?

    If those measures were taken, would it be possible to step up the spay & neuter program to the point where there are no more breeding cats on the island?


    1. Joecat August 31, 2020 3:42 pm Reply

      No, spay neuter release does not work.


  4. GoodEnuff August 31, 2020 2:33 pm Reply

    Sadly this issue will actually take strong leadership to resolve. We have a tremendous opportunity without visitors to deal with our environmental issues like the feral cat problem in Hawaii. But like most things here the key is strong leadership and that my friends we don’t have. You will have to be willing to take on the crazy cat people because the only real solution for this problem is complete eradication. Take a lesson from New Zealand and see how these issues are resolved. They do it with strong leadership and a total willingness to protect the environment and native species at all cost. This will in turn give us a real eco friendly environment.


  5. George Ho August 31, 2020 4:55 pm Reply

    WAKE UP Kauai community. Feral cats must be put down to save our native and endemic wildlife. Feral dogs are no better. I did say feral. Some people are responsible. If you do not share this mindset – move to California, where nothing is sacred.


  6. Jay August 31, 2020 6:59 pm Reply

    Terrible…

    What I find more disturbing however are the numerous suicide deaths on Kauai due to the lockdown, the numbers of suicides keep soaring, Not just on Kauai, but on the other islands too.. and no one wants to talk about it. Governor Ige, and mayor K are keeping the suicide numbers under lock and key, because they know the public outcry will not be pleasant if people knew the truth..

    The governor and mayor, in collusion with the health insurance companies are also preventing people from getting covid-19 antibody tests, in that the insurance doesn’t cover an antibody test unless you were actually sick with covid. The reason is, because if they allowed everyone to take an antibody test we will suddenly discover that a high number of us already had covid, which will make the shutdowns unnecessary, which means that they lose all those emergency powers.. hmm they don’t want that…


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