NINA WU / NWU@STARBULLETIN.COM
A rooster ambles past one of the feral cats that also lives at the site. Some of the residents who live near the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride facility say the city should be doing more about the feral roosters there.
Roosters rule roost at Hawaii Kai park-and-ride
Nearby residents say the city is giving them the runaround
STORY SUMMARY »
Numerous roosters have for years occupied a knoll behind the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride on Keahole Street, deciding that's where they're going to live and raise their families.
Despite efforts to round up the roosters, they have prospered, and are keeping Hawaii Kai residents awake at night.
The roosters crow at all hours of the day and night, including midnight and between 2 and 3 a.m. on a regular basis. The noise travels across the water and the crows are piercing, they said.
The city has a $60,000 contract with Royos Farm to round up chickens on private property. But because the Park & Ride site is city-owned, it is not covered by the city contract with Royos Farm.
Another company previously retained to catch chickens at the Park & Ride site, Action Pest Control/Hawaii Bird Control & Netting Inc., hasn't been been offered another contract.
Residents believe it's the city's responsibility to clear out the noisy roosters and have been raising the issue at the neighborhood board meetings every month.
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Sandy Nobunaga has been a Hawaii Kai resident and homeowner for more than 35 years, living happily along the marina until new neighbors moved in.
Noisy, cackly neighbors that would scrabble and screech all night, keeping her awake until the wee hours of the morning.
The roosters had moved into the knoll behind the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride, and for the past few years, decided that's where they were going to stay and raise their families.
It may, at first, seem humorous, but Nobunaga's not laughing.
Nor are more than a dozen of her neighbors, who signed a petition earlier this year asking the city to do something about the fowl noise in the neighborhood. They have been hoping for a solution for more than a year now, losing nights of uninterrupted sleep all the while.
"It's a real nuisance problem," said Nobunaga.
The rooster noises travel across the water in the middle of the night -- and their crows are piercing, she said.
But catching the roosters at the Park & Ride is not covered under the city's current contract with Royos Farm, which only deals with roosters on private residences.
The Park & Ride is owned by the city, and administered by the city Department of Transportation Services.
Wayne Yoshioka, director of DTS, said he's spoken with the Hawaiian Humane Society about rounding up the cats.
He said his department is collaborating with the city Department of Enterprise Services to find a solution. But it really isn't clear which city department will ultimately take the lead.
Nobunaga said since August 2006, she's written letters to the mayor and called various city agencies about the rooster noise, to no avail.
Nobunaga and her neighbors believe it's the city's responsibility to clear out the roosters, and that if there was a clear action plan -- it could have been done a long time ago.
Bruce Chapman, another Hawaii Kai resident, says he copes by turning on a fan to drone out the roosters.
He said the roosters sometimes communicate with one another -- calling back and forth throughout the day and night. Since he's a light sleeper, the roosters wake him up regularly between 2 and 3 a.m.
"Once you're awakened, it's very difficult to get back to sleep," he said.
Jewell Tuitele turns on the television to drown out the roosters. Others wear ear plugs, or try muffling the sounds with a heavy drapery.
Daniel Bogert said that besides the noise, the feral roosters and cats present a health hazard, with the potential for spreading parasites and disease.
Some residents at one point took the matter into their own hands and tried setting up traps, but only a few chickens were caught per week -- barely a dent in the population.
Rooster issues have become an islandwide problem.
Complaints about roosters have surfaced at other neighborhood boards -- ranging from Diamond Head (at Pualei Circle) and Foster Village. But it has been a recurring topic at the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board for more than a year.
Councilman Charles Djou has tried several times to propose a ban on roosters in residential areas, only to be shot down. The latest one -- Bill 47 -- has been stalled in committee. It would not apply directly to the Park & Ride situation.
"Roosters are inappropriate animals in a residentially zoned area," he said. "They are farm animals. If you do that, I think you will substantially address the problem."
Djou says the root of the problem is that breeders are raising cockfighting roosters, and then letting them go. Simply catching the roosters won't address the root of the problem, he said.
He said he's not against roosters raised on agricultural lands.
The city has hired Dorothy "D.J." De Tomaso, owner of Action Pest Control/Hawaii Bird Control & Netting Inc.
in Waianae, off and on to catch the roosters at the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride.
She has a different approach from Royos Farm.
"We don't just leave traps sitting there," said De Tomaso, who also did work at Hickam Air Force base. "We actually bait out there with a special type of cage and netting and remove them."
Last year, De Tomaso recalls catching 130 roosters at the park. The year prior, she rounded up 160 in two rounds.
But it may be that a few chicks got left behind, because the roosters are back.
"I don't know why people dump them there," she said. "But we get them out of there and about six months later, there are some more. ... Every six weeks, they're hatching. It's just nature."
She suspects some people let chicks go after Easter, when the numbers seem to increase.
CATS AND ROOSTERS
However, catching the runaway roosters at the Park & Ride is a challenge, because they're not hungry.
Some nonprofits, as well as residents, feed a colony of feral cats that also hang out there regularly. While their intention is to feed the cats, the roosters benefit from the leftovers.
De Tomaso says she's trying to figure out a strategy for catching the well-fed roosters.
She's writing up a proposal for birth control pellets that work for pigeons, but could also work for chickens.
The birth control pellets go into the feed, and interrupt the production of viable eggs. Once the birds are off the birth control, she said, the eggs go back to normal.
But De Tomaso has not since been offered another contract to round up the roosters at the Park & Ride.
Now a dog park, expected to open this summer next to the Park & Ride should add a new element to the cat-and-rooster situation. The park is fenced off. When the dogs are gone, however, cats and roosters could make their way to the park.
Frank De Giacomo, vice president of the Animal Care Foundation, said he believes trapping roosters is counterproductive because it only makes them reproduce faster, by reducing the competition between roosters for access to hens.
For Nobunaga and her neighbors, however, the sleepless nights continue.
"We're back to square one," said a frustrated Nobunaga. "We have gone full circle. They're still crowing ever so loud. It would be good if they cleared up that whole area."