Translocation is being used as a tool to protect Hawai’i’s native seabirds from invasive species, but this is only one part of a much larger conservation effort.
Two of Hawai’i’s most endangered seabirds are getting much-needed help to prevent further population declines. The Endangered Newell’s Shearwater and the Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrel are flagship species on Kaua’i but have suffered dramatic population losses due to the presence of invasive species in their habitat. Now, conservationists are using translocation and other conservation tools to help protect these seabird chicks.
Translocation is a part of the conservation strategy devised to boost Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrel populations. This is the second year that the plan to move newborn chicks to the Nihoku Crater in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge has been enacted. The refuge is a predator-free breeding colony that allows the new chicks to thrive. Andre Raine, with Kaua’i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project explains:
This project is an important facet of the conservation of the Newell’s Shearwater and Hawaiian Petrel.
So far this year eight Newell’s Shearwater chicks have been transported to the refuge where they will continue to be monitored by the conservation partners involved. The colony has man-made burrows that are protected from invasive predators. One of the reasons translocation offers hope for threatened seabirds is that these chicks are philopatric—they return each year to the same breeding sites. Young chicks imprint on the colony where they live and will return to the safe location when they themselves are ready to breed.
Translocating the individuals is only one part of the partnership’s project and is only effective when coupled with continued monitoring and removal of invasive species that could pose a threat to the chicks. Projects to protect native seabirds are found throughout Kaua’i, and efforts are underway to restore Lehua Island to further contribute to safe habitat for the region’s at-risk native wildlife. Removing invasive species is a vital part of the plan to provide Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels with a safe place to breed and nest.
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