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Kauai feral cats shown killing endangered seabirds

  • COURTESY KAUAI ENDANGERED SEABIRD RECOVERY PROJECTIn this image taken from video
    COURTESY KAUAI ENDANGERED SEABIRD RECOVERY PROJECT
    In this image taken from video

Scientists are concerned about a large number of endangered seabirds killed by feral cats in remote areas of Kauai.

The Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project has been conducting field research on endangered seabirds that include the Newell’s shearwaters to gain a better understanding of causes to the decline in the population. Video camerasset up at burrows in the mountains show images of feral cats entering and killing breeding birds.

The project team have recorded 25 instances on camera of feral cats attempting to enter burrows of nesting shearwaters, according to a news release by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. So far, the remains of nine endangered seabirds killed by cats have been discovered at multiple remote sites on Kauai this season. 

To address the issue, the Kauai County Council created a feral cat task force to look into the matter and come up with recommendations on how to best manage the population estimated at 15,000 to 20,000. Peter Adler, project director of the Kauai Feral Cat Task Force, is scheduled to provide a report to the Kauai County Council at a July 2 meeting.

In a video posted on KESRP’s website, a cat is seen entering a Newell’s shearwater burrow at a site within the Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve. The feline then exits with a shearwater bird in its mouth before killing it. Scientists described the seabird as one of a pair of the endangered Newell’s shearwaters that had successfully fledged a chick last year.

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