Craig T. Kojima / CKojima@starbulletin.com
Chaliang Akamine (inside cage) helped set up a large cage for catching roosters and chickens at the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride. Todd Akamine, below, of Action Pest Control has been out before sunrise catching wild chickens at the location.
Here a chick, there a — cat?
Cat food is complicating a contractor's rooster hunt in Hawaii Kai
For the past week, before the break of dawn, Todd Akamine has been at the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride, with a wire coop and scoop net, catching wild chickens.
The tally so far: 10 roosters, 46 hens, a handful of juniors and a dozen chicks.
After a recent Star-Bulletin story detailing the chronic rooster noise problem at the Hawaii Kai Park & Ride, the city issued a contract with Waianae-based Action Pest Control/Hawaii Bird Control and Netting to catch the wild poultry.
The contract requires Action Pest to catch one round of roosters from April 3 through April 17 and then again in late May. Both two-week contracts amount to $2,600.
Action Pest caught 130 roosters the last time it had a contract at the Park & Ride, and 160 the year before.
Akamine estimates he'll catch at least 100 by next week.
He uses a wire coop attached to a long string that he pulls from a distance to trap the roosters, and then transfers them to a wire cage in his truck.
The catch is transported to a rooster farm in Pearl City.
But a few hurdles make the task at hand difficult -- last Friday morning he discovered about five pounds of IAMS cat food left out along the retaining wall at the Park & Ride.
None of the roosters came near the coop, because they weren't hungry. The same happened again yesterday morning -- and again, there was cat food scattered along the retaining wall.
Akamine said the roosters rule over the cat food. Among the roosters and hens he's caught, the evidence is clear: They've been fattened on cat food.
The cats know better, he said, than to do battle with the chickens over the food.
To lure the roosters in, he now uses cat food, because they're no longer interested in chicken feed.
If the cat colony caretakers would coordinate with him on the feedings, he said he could more effectively catch the roosters and prevent them from eating the cat food.
Steve Geimer, one of four volunteers who regularly feeds the cats, however, said the IAMS cat food did not come from them.
Typically, he said, the volunteers leave the food out in small piles after dark -- but only between two to four ounces, and they are consumed by morning.
"We're trying to get our feeders to not put as much food out there," he said. "I'm going to cut back, too, but the problem is casual feeders."
An unknown number of casual feeders also leave food out for the cats -- sometimes leftover lunch. Some also may feed the roosters and chickens.
Geimer, who calls himself a "reluctant cat feeder," said he does it out of compassion for abandoned cats. But he's also sympathetic to nearby residents who can't sleep at night.
"We want to resolve the chicken problem more than the rooster people do," he said, "but the cats are not causing the rooster problem."
Chickens have over the years taken up residence in the brush adjacent to the Park & Ride, from near the dog park on the makai side to the lot across from Hawaii Kai Towne Center.
Akamine said the chickens also live in a fenced-in lot next to the Park & Ride, and have traveled as far as the lagoon at Hawaii Kai Drive and Kalanianaole Highway. The lot, across from Costco, is owned by Kamehameha Schools.
But those areas are not covered under the city contract.
Hawaii Kai marina resident Sandy Nobunaga and neighbors, meanwhile, want the city to trap the chickens on a quarterly basis, not just in a two-contract deal.
Bruce Chapman said he was still awakened by roosters crowing at 3:15 a.m. earlier this week, and again, at 4:15 a.m. yesterday.
"Until all the roosters and hens are gone," he said, "any solution is only temporary at best, and the city will continue to hear complaints and spend money on band-aid approaches."
The residents have brought up the rooster issue at monthly neighborhood board meetings for more than a year.
Wayne Yoshioka, director of the city's Transportation Department, which initiated the contract, said it will consider rounding up the roosters on a regular basis. At the same time, the city is trying to dialogue with the cat feeders.
The city has a separate $60,000 contract with Royos Farm to respond to neighbor complaints and remove wild chickens at private residences throughout Oahu.