The organization fighting invasive species on Kauai says 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, announced Wednesday, came after two months of intensive trapping at the resort and more than a year of responding to reports of mongoose sightings, said Keren Gundersen, project coordinator for the Kauai Invasive Species Committee.
“We’re just very excited to finally capture one — but you know, it’s good news, bad news,” Gundersen said.
Mongooses are weasel-like animals native to India.
Sugar plantations introduced the species to Hawaii in 1883 to control rats in cane fields. The mongooses 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 mongooses 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 transported nearly 300 nene geese from the Kauai Lagoons resort to Maui and Hawaii island to protect them from airplanes taking off and landing at Lihue Airport next door.
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 more than 160 credible sightings of mongooses in the past 44 years. More than 70 of those sightings have come in the past 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 mongooses.