State: Feral cats pose growing threat to endangered birds on Kauai

State: Feral cats pose growing threat to endangered birds on Kauai
A feral cat killed this endangered Hawaiian petrel on Kauai. (Source: DLNR)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - State wildlife officials are raising alarms about the growing threat of feral cats to endangered birds on Kauai.

The growing concern comes after a feral cat killed an endangered Hawaiian petrel chick that the state Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project had been tracking.

Researchers found the deceased bird in its forest burrow in late November.

A camera monitoring the burrow caught a feral cat eating the chick hours before it was about to take off on its own.

Andre Raine, seabird recovery project coordinator, called the situation “heartbreaking."

“Kauai is a ‘Noah’s Ark’ for many endangered species," he said, in a news release.

“In late 2019, we documented more than 150 wedge-tailed shearwaters kills along the coast and multiple cat predations of Hawaiian petrels and Newell’s shearwaters (both of which are critically endangered) in the mountains.”

Raine said it’s vital residents take feral cat management seriously to ensure native birds survive.

The Hawaiian petrel chick that died in November was one of three the seabird recovery project tagged in the remote Hono o Na Pali Natural Reserve Area on Kauai.

Raine said the two other birds tagged in the study are still being monitored, and one flew 5,000 miles away after it left its nest.

Meanwhile, conservationists believe the same feral cat that killed the Hawaiian petrel chick was seen on five other camera burrows and likely killed at least one other petrel chick that was not part of the study.

Predator control teams are searching for the cat.

Officials said Hawaiian petrels have no means of defense against feral cats and their existence is in extreme decline.

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