Mongoose seen on Kauai
is still on the loose
Question: What ever happened to the mongoose on Kauai?
Answer: If it exists at all, it remains at large.
Kauai is the only island in Hawaii that did not receive any mongooses when they were imported in a futile effort to control rats in the 1880s. One of the mongooses that was supposed to be shipped to Kauai bit a dockworker, and he kicked the cage of Kauai-bound mongooses into the ocean.
Mongooses have since become a major threat to ground-nesting birds on islands where they were introduced. Because mongooses hunt in the daytime and rats are nocturnal, the original rat-eradication plan never worked.
Following the report of a mongoose sighting on Kauai on Feb. 23, the state Forestry Division put out two traps and brought in a mongoose-tracking dog from Oahu, but it came up empty.
Since then, the mongoose-control issue on Kauai (assuming there are any that need controlling) has been shifted to the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, an unofficial coalition of government and private nonprofit agencies and businesses whose members include the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grove Farm, the Nature Conservancy and others.
Insiders say that because the group lacks any enforcement authority, it is not clear who is supposed to do what if another mongoose sighting occurs on Kauai.
"Sooner or later, we're going to bang heads on this issue," said a representative of one of the member agencies.
Keren Gunderson, spokeswoman for the committee, said, "We are trying to come up a strategy."
Creation of a "Mongoose Response Team" is being discussed by the committee, but it is not clear who would be on it or who would fund it.
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