The organization fighting invasive species on Kauai said Wednesday a live mongoose has been captured on the island for the first time, raising concern the animals may already be established on the island and could jeopardize endangered species there.
The male mongoose was found in a trap at Kauai Lagoons resort in Lihue and was killed with carbon dioxide in accordance with humane standards established by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The discovery came after two months of intensive trapping at the resort and over a year or responding to reports of mongoose sightings, said project coordinator Keren Gundersen.
“We’re just very excited to finally capture one — but you know, it’s good news, bad news,” Gundersen said.
Mongoose are a weasel-like animal native to India.
Sugar plantations first introduced the species to Hawaii in 1883 to control rats in cane fields. The mongoose didn’t control rats as planned but instead preyed on turtle eggs and birds. Their numbers have also exploded because they don’t have any natural predators in Hawaii.
Kauai’s plantations didn’t introduce mongoose to their fields, and their absence is one reason ground nesting birds like nene have flourished on the Garden Island. Earlier this year, state officials took nearly 300 nene geese from the Kauai Lagoons resort and took them to Maui and the Big Island to get them out of the way of airplanes taking off and landing at the Lihue Airport next door.
The nene population at the resort had grown so large the geese were a threat to aircraft.
On Maui and the Big Island, state officials have nene breed in pens surrounded by mongoose-proof fences.
The last time a mongoose was confirmed to have been on Kauai was in 1976, when a female animal was found dead on a highway near Kalaheo.
But the Kauai Invasive Species Committee said there have been over 160 credible sightings of mongoose in the last 44 years. More than 70 of those sightings have come in the last decade.
Gundersen said the committee planned to convene a working group meeting with other state and federal agencies to come up with a plan to deal with the mongoose.
The committee is asking residents to report sightings of the animal, even if old, so it can draw a map of where the mongoose is spending its time.
Kauai Invasive Species Committee: http://www.hawaiiinvasivespecies.org/iscs/kisc/