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Fingers Crossed for Second Hawaiian Crow Release

Conservationists make a second attempt to release six Hawaiian Crows to the wild after 15 years of absence.

After 15 years of ongoing conservation efforts, six Hawaiian Crows, also known as Alalā, were reintroduced to the wild this week. The species has been Extinct-in-the-wild since 2002 largely because of invasive predators. Now, six individuals have been released in the Big Island’s Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve and show promising signs of health.

In December 2016, five male Alalā were released into the wild but were returned to captivity after two of the individuals were found dead. After looking into the first attempt, conservationists found that the two males had been preyed upon by the Hawaiian Hawk, also known as io.

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The Alalā. Credit: DLNR

For the second attempt conservationists took into account lessons learned from the first release. This time the release was timed to avoid winter storms, was done in a new location to avoid predation, and both males and females were released, which supports more socialization (and therefore safety) than an all-male group. The conservationists have also spent the past months increasing the crows’ predator avoidance trainingBryce Masuda, Conservation Program Manager for the Hawai’i Endangered Bird Conservation Program explained:

Although bringing the Alalā back from the brink of extinction will take a lot of time and perseverance, many people are dedicated to saving this important species.

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An Alalā surveys its surroundings during a release Tuesday. Credit: Hawaii DLNR

Although the crows’ return to the wild is just the beginning of recovery, it offers real hope for the future of a species that many thought would be lost forever. Thanks to dedicated individuals and science-based approaches to restoration, the Alalā has a chance to fly free.

Featured Photo: View from the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Byron Chin
Sources:
West Hawaii Today
Hawaii News Now

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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