Albatrosses on their
way to Kaena

Officials want people to stay on
trails to preserve nesting areas

By Diana Leone

Laysan albatross will begin returning soon to nest at Kaena Point, prompting state officials to remind visitors there to stay on the marked trail.

State Department of Land and Natural Resources naturalist Betsy Gagne said she is concerned about reports of bicycle tire tracks through parts of the 43-acre Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve that are outside prescribed trails.

"We're trying to keep the point natural," Gagne said, without a bunch of warning signs or roped-off areas.

If visitors to the area can't police themselves and stay on established trails, the state might have to take more drastic measures "to protect the people from the resources and the resources from the people," she said.

Bicycling and walking are the only means of transportation allowed in the reserve, which is home to a number of endangered and native plants and is a nesting area for both the Laysan albatross (moli) and the wedgetailed shearwater (uau kani).

Last year, more than 30 albatross nested there and seven chicks survived.

A count of the wedgetails last month before they started leaving found 1,499 burrows, with 833 surviving fledglings (adolescent birds). Both are records since the department designated the area as protected in 1983.

Laysan albatrosses nest at Kaena from late November through the middle of June and the shearwaters live there from March until mid-November, said John Polhemus, a DLNR wildlife biologist.

The problem with people walking or riding off the trail, said Polhemus, is "they could potentially end the nesting season for that bird for the year. These birds are only going to lay one egg a year."

"We realize that not everyone feels the way we do about the native birds and plants," Polhemus said. "We simply ask that people respect them when entering the reserve."

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