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Lehua Island Project is Safe, Necessary

Makaala Kaaumoana, originally from Kaneaohe and now a resident of Kilauea, explains why the eradication effort on Lehua Island is safe and necessary.

By: Makaala Kaaumoana

Aloha Kauai friends and neighbors, please hear my voice. No one cares more about the health of the Kauai than I do. My husband was born in Kilauea and his family has been here since Hawaii was first settled. I am kama‘aina from Kaneohe. My family has been here six generations. Both of our families are fisher folk.

I have been involved with the Hanalei Watershed Hui since it was formed in 1999, have worked with many of you on community projects especially focused on the North Shore. I sit on several boards, some statewide, and work with organizations throughout Hawaii. Much of my interest is in protecting the native places and things of our island home. Many of these things are threatened daily by habitat loss and invasive species, both plants and animals and sometimes man.

I work on behalf of Hawaiian people and on behalf of Kauai every day, all day. The planning and decision to drop pellets on Lehua was not made hastily. No project like this can be 100 percent without impact. The pellets being dropped on Lehua will not harm you and will not harm the reef. They will, with any luck, harm the rats. All the rats. Did it harm those 45 ama’ama? Only time will tell. Did they get dropped there by someone who would love to see this project fail? Only time will tell.

I work on behalf of Hawaiian people and on behalf of Kauai every day, all day. The planning and decision to drop pellets on Lehua was not made hastily…The pellets being dropped on Lehua will not harm you and will not harm the reef.

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The project to restore Lehua Island aims to benefit Hawai’i’s native seabirds and ecological health. Get the facts here. Credit: Island Conservation

There are people saying that rats are natural there. They are not. Ask yourself this: how many rats would you like in your house, nibbling on your children? The pellets contain green food dye like the dye in pickle relish so they are not attractive to birds. They are made of food-grade cereal with a tiny dose of a blood thinner. Aspirin is a blood thinner. Different animals react differently to different medicines. Aspirin will kill a cat but not a human unless taken in gigantic doses. Same with Tylenol.

Believe me, every single problem we have on Kauai — and there are plenty — is bigger than rat pellets on Lehua, 18 miles away from the Westside. I completely understand your concerns, but some of them have been stirred up because you have been told lies. There are people who seem to enjoy running around telling you the sky is falling, using fear for power. Why? Hawaiians say “waha he‘e.” Some people enjoy getting other people all upset. Those same people also love the attention they get by telling you the sky is falling. They feel so powerful, watching you run around in circles.

Don’t know who to believe? Here’s how: trust the people who want the drops to be finished and be 100 percent successful. Someone who is against the drops and wants them to fail is speaking out of two sides of his mouth. Let’s get those rats gone forever, leave a safe sanctuary for our native birds, and get back to the real problems on Kauai. Do not allow yourself to be distracted. Do not fall down now because someone on the sidelines is yelling at you, throwing toilet paper rolls at your feet, telling you to be very scared. Let’s get this finished and get on with our real issues, like making sure our keiki can afford to continue living here.

Let’s get those rats gone forever, leave a safe sanctuary for our native birds, and get back to the real problems on Kauai.

The pellet drop on Lehua is not about dominion, as some are claiming. Lehua has been under Coast Guard control for nearly 100 years, because Lehua was once an important place for a lighthouse. Now DLNR has a permit for a bird sanctuary there. The birds need it, desperately. We have made almost every other place in the state unsafe for them: rats, feral cats, loose dogs, wild pigs all prey upon them. These are the birds who guided our navigators here and who tell us where the fish stay. Now we owe them a safe haven.

Featured photo: North shore of Kaua’i. Credit: Anita Gould
Originally Printed in The Garden Island

About Island Conservation

Island Conservation prevents extinctions by removing invasive species from islands. To date, we have successfully restored 60 islands worldwide, benefiting 1090 populations of 399 species and subspecies. Working together with local communities, government management agencies, and conservation organizations, we select islands that have the greatest potential for preventing the extinction of globally threatened species.

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