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Sanctuary protection is proposed for island


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POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

Officials are proposing to add an island in Kaneohe Bay to the list of wildlife sanctuaries due to disturbance to an endangered bird habitat.

Several state conservation enforcement officers and state Sen. Clayton Hee, who represents the district, visited Kapapa Island yesterday, picking up discarded plastic water bottles, soda cans and potato chip bags.

Near a tent were remnants of a large campfire, two coolers and a gray bin for trash, empty dog food bowls, fishing nets and a roll of toilet paper hanging from a tree branch.

“;This is disgraceful,”; said Guy Chang, head of the Oahu branch of the state Conservation and Resources Enforcement Division.

The 9.5-acre island about four miles off of Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor is state property, frequented by fishermen.

;  Paul Conroy, administrator of the Forestry and Wildlife Division, said the last time major additions were made to the refuge list was in the 1980s. But Kapapa Island was not added because many wanted to retain the island for recreational use.

But officials are now seeing a need for regulations as complaints grow about disturbance to nesting wedge-tailed shearwaters.

While the shearwaters are federally protected, their nesting habitat on Kapapa Island is not, said wildlife biologist Jaap Eijzenga.

Last year, biologists counted 256 chicks on the island. Shearwater birds are known to arrive on the island in March and lay their eggs in June, said Eijzenga.

The proposed rules will include camping restrictions. Fishing will still be allowed, but Conroy noted that camping brings foot traffic and dogs.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold public hearings statewide from Nov. 3 to 9 on a proposal to add Kapapa to the sanctuaries list.

For public hearing times and locations, go to www. hawaii.gov/dlnr/meetings.