DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
LAURA H. THIELEN, CHAIRPERSON
Phone: (808) 587-0401
Fax: (808) 587-0390
For Immediate Release:
Help Protect Kaua'i Vulnerable Native Wildlife-
LIHU‘E -- On Kaua‘i’s shores, it’s the vulnerable season for nesting and fledging endangered seabirds and pupping season for monk seals. Also for the first time in many years, there is a successful nesting of green sea turtles on the island’s south shore.
To protect the native wildlife during breeding season, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is reminding pet owners to keep their dogs leashed, as required by county and state laws. State wildlife officials who keep track of endangered marine and coastal animals, have also placed warning signs and protective barriers in known wildlife habitat.
In recent months, the state has received increased reports of problems resulting from dogs allowed to roam loose on the north, east, and south shores of the island -- from Ha‘ena Point to Po‘ipu Beach County Park. Unleashed dogs could injure or kill young seabirds, or bark and bite at seals resting on the beach, causing them to flee into the water.
In July, a mother seal known as RH58 nursed and weaned her pup on the northeast shore of Kaua‘i. The female seal was resting with protective ropes and signs placed around her by volunteers. Despite their warnings to a dog owner in the area to keep the dog on a leash, the dog was released, and it attacked RH58 several times before the seal returned to the water.
In another instance this summer, monk seal watch volunteers and area residents saw an injured or sick seal floating in shallow waters at Kukui‘ula harbor on Kaua‘i’s south shore near Po‘ipu. They also reported seeing many unleashed dogs roaming the beach and swimming in the water near the seal. The seal never hauled out to rest. Instead of leaving, it remained floating in the harbor waters, possibly due to its vulnerable state.
In July, DLNR marine biologist Mimi Olry was assisting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist Brenda Zaun with banding fledging albatross on Kaua‘i’s north shore at Kilauea Lighthouse Wildlife Refuge. They were saddened to find two of the four albatross chicks at the refuge had been killed by dogs.
Last year, in spite of tireless efforts by Zaun and her volunteers to protect nesting Laysan albatross, many chicks and nesting adults were killed by dogs. One owner was cited and fined when her two pet retrievers killed over 20 albatross.
“We often see pet dogs and stray dogs roaming free,” Olry said. “We want to remind the public there is a county leash law, and dogs must be under control of their owner by a leash when off the owner’s property.”
Under the county law (Section 22, Article 2 of the Kaua‘i County Code.), if a dog is found running loose and no owner is obviously present to control them, the animal is considered stray and in violation of the law. County fines for this violation range from $50 to $200.
“We need the public’s help to report stray or loose dogs to the Kaua‘i Humane Society, which is open seven days a week,” said Olry. “If the $500 fine was enforced more often, people would think twice to bring a dog into a state or county beach park.”
Down Lawai Road, past the Kukui‘ula state small boat harbor, DLNR Forestry and Wildlife officials Thomas Kaiakapu and Andrea Erichsen have been finding nesting shearwaters that were killed and mangled by dogs.
In June 2007, DLNR, in cooperation with the county and a local developer, installed signs notifying the public of the sensitive resources and the need to keep dogs leashed.
There have been multiple killings along the east shore of Kaua‘i as well including, Hanama‘ulu Bay, Wailua, Ha‘ena, and most recently, Moloa‘a where over 15 breeding wedge-tailed shearwaters were killed by a dog or dogs. DLNR intends to install additional signs at other seabird nesting sights.
"The ua‘u kani is the ‘aku bird’ of the fisherman, an indigenous Hawaiian bird, protected by state and federal laws under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” said DLNR wildlife biologist Dr. Fern Duvall. “They need every bit of help from us to sustain their numbers in modern Hawai‘i.”
DLNR is also taking steps to protect turtle nests on the south shore, at Lawai Kai. Biologists have roped off the areas, and are monitoring for stray or loose pets.
“It is the first time in many years that turtles have nested here. It would be a shame if dogs dug up the nests,” Olry said.
To report loose dogs please call the Kaua‘i Humane Society at 632-0610 or Kaua‘i County Police. To report any problems with dogs and wildlife please immediately call the DLNR Conservation and Resources Enforcement office at 247-3521 or after hours, 643-DLNR.
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