For aircraft safety (and theirs), 21 albatross eggs relocated to Oahu

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Twenty-one fertilized Laysan albatross eggs have been taken from a colony on Kauai, where the protected birds are an aircraft strike hazard.

The colony is located next to the airstrip at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands.

Conservationists said the birds were first spotted there in 1967, and started nesting there about 10 years later.

The Navy worked with Pacific Rim Conservation to move 21 eggs from Kauai to another nesting colony at Kaena Point Natural Reserve. That's where vandals destroyed at least 17 nests and killed 15 birds two years ago.

"These eggs will give that colony a little boost and put them back on the path where they would have been anyway," said Eric Vanderwerf, of Pacific Rim Conservation.

In the past, the Navy has legally destroyed eggs at the missile range facility, but is now working to have them relocated instead.

According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, an estimated 600 eggs have been relocated from the missile range over the past 12 years.

"By removing the eggs each year, there's no young to return to that site," said Vanderwerf. "So these are just the breeding birds that are slowly dying. But albatross live a long time, so this is a long-term process."

But Cathy Goeggel of Animal Rights Hawaii doesn't think Kaena Point is safe enough.

"The only way I would accept more animals being placed out there is if they absolutely cut off human intervention except for caretakers," said Goeggel.

She also thinks it is wrong to take eggs from the Kauai colony.

"These are loving families, as we know," she said. "And to have their eggs stolen is a terrible thing."

Pacific Rim Conservation has relocated eggs from the missile range to other areas on Kauai, but was unable to find enough nests this year.

"We're hoping to locate more foster nests on Kauai itself to avoid having to move eggs to Oahu," said Vanderwerf.

The eggs placed in nests at Kaena Point are expected to hatch in early February. The chicks should then fledge about five months later.

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