Feral cats are being blamed for the deaths of six endangered Hawaiian Petrels at a remote breeding colony in Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve on Kauai.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources said the birds had been dragged from their breeding burrows by feral cats and partially eaten, including one incident that was caught on a monitoring camera.
Andre Raine, coordinator for the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, said during the past two years, 48 endangered seabirds were killed by feral cats.
Saying that this “represents just the tip of the iceberg,” Raine added: “If we continue to have large numbers of feral cats roaming the landscape, the situation will only deteriorate for these beautiful and iconic birds. We can all help by encouraging responsible pet ownership, which includes keeping cats indoors and away from our native wildlife.”
“The Hawaiian Petrel is an endangered seabird found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Its populations have declined dramatically in recent years on Kauai, where it faces a number of threats including being eaten by introduced predators such as cats. Several colonies of these birds are now being protected by seabird management projects, which includes the control of introduced predators.”
Hawaiian Petrels come to Kauai to breed from April to December and nest in burrows which they dig in the ground under native ferns and at the base of large trees such as ohia.
The state land department said that at this time of year, petrels are incubating a single egg, and are extremely vulnerable to cats and other predators who can get into burrows to kill them.