STAR-BULLLETIN / APRIL 2005
Wedge-tailed shearwaters, like the one shown above, are ground-nesting seabirds.
Dogs blamed in bird deaths
Hundreds are slain in the "tragic" killings at Kaena Point refuge
Hundreds of wedge-tailed shearwater chicks were killed by loose dogs at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve over the weekend, a state official said.
"It is tragic, it is preventable, it is irresponsible for people to have dogs in a bird habitat area. It's just an unfortunate loss," said Peter Young, state Department of Land and Natural Resources director.
Young said department staff were still trying to get a final count on the number of dead birds and were also attempting to catch the dogs. If the dogs have identification, the department will track down their owners, he said.
The reserve is within Kaena Point State Park and managed by DLNR. An informational sign at the Mokuleia entrance to the park tells visitors to keep their dogs out of the natural area reserve.
State administrative rules prohibit injuring or killing any plant or animal life in natural area reserves. The rules also prohibit the introduction of plants or animals.
According to state law, violators, if found guilty, will be convicted of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and $1,000 fine. The state may also impose administrative fines.
Anyone with information about what happened is asked to call DLNR's 24-hour enforcement hotline at 643-DLNR (3567).
Young said he learned of the bird deaths late Monday. The event cast a pall of sadness over the staff as the news spread quickly, he said.
"This is just not one of the good days," Young said. "You just kinda shake your head. Why can't people be more responsible?"
Wedge-tailed shearwaters are ground-nesting seabirds. This is the time of year shearwater chicks fledge and leave their nests in the sand dunes. Young said there were up to 700 shearwater chicks at Kaena.
Other seabirds found in the reserve include Laysan albatrosses, red-footed boobies, brown boobies, brown noddies and black-footed albatrosses.
Gov. George Ariyoshi established the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve in 1983 by executive order to protect the threatened sand dune ecosystem of rare native plant communities.
The reserve was also established as a potential refuge and breeding area for the Laysan albatross, endangered Hawaiian monk seal and threatened green sea turtle.
Monk seals usually breed in the northwest Hawaiian islands. However, a monk seal gave birth to a pup at the point this summer.