COURTESY OF STATE DLNR
State-hired hunters shot and killed four of five dogs suspected of killing wedge-tailed shearwater chicks over the weekend at the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve. Here, workers dispose of the decomposing shearwater carcasses. CLICK FOR LARGE
4 dogs suspected in bird deaths killed
More than 100 shearwater chicks at Kaena have died; a fifth dog is still loose
State-hired hunters shot and killed four of five dogs suspected of killing more than a hundred fledgling wedge-tailed shearwater chicks in the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve this weekend.
They are searching for the fifth dog.
"There were no signs that these dogs had collars or IDs on them. So they could have been ... stray dogs," said Peter Young, state Department of Land and Natural Resources director.
The reserve is part of the Kaena Point State Park and managed by DLNR's Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
If the dogs were pets, the department will try to track down their owners, Young said. Warning signs at the park entrance inform people that state administrative rules prohibit bringing dogs into the reserve.
The dogs were killed Monday after the state received a report that dogs were running loose in the reserve and there were signs chicks had been killed.
When department staff members went to Kaena to check on the report, they found more than a hundred dead chicks. Of that number, 21 were fresh kills, Young said.
"There was clear evidence that the dogs attacked the birds," he said.
Department biologists and ornithologists went to the reserve yesterday to count the number of dead birds and to retrieve their carcasses to prevent attracting other predators.
A number of shearwater chicks are killed by cats and mongooses every year. The introduction of dogs into the reserve raises that number dramatically, Young said.
He said every effort is made to capture predators before resorting to killing them. But if the department cannot capture them, it has the responsibility and mandate by state law to protect wildlife in natural area reserves, he said.
The colony of wedge-tailed shearwaters at Kaena was re-established within the last five years after decades of destruction of the fragile ecosystem there by off-road vehicles.
The colony was growing, and volunteers counted 725 fledglings on Oct. 28.
This was not the first time dogs killed shearwaters at Kaena. In 1996 a feral dog killed 40 nesting shearwaters in one night. And in 2005 a feral dog killed about 20 shearwaters.