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Kauai refuge will build a fence to keep predators out, protect birds

June 8, 2013
The Associated Press

LIHUE (AP) - The Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex will fence off a 7-acre area to protect native coastal planes and birds, including Hawaiian geese, endangered nene, and moli, or Laysan albatross.

The Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project will be undertaken on Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, east of a lighthouse, The Garden Island reported Thursday.

The pest-proof structure will be the first of its kind on a national wildlife refuge in the U.S., complex project leader Shannon Stutzer-Smith said.

The fence is designed to keep out introduced predators such as cats, dogs, rats and mice.

The site will also be used to translocate endangered ao birds, also known as Newell's shearwaters.

George Wallace of the American Bird Conservancy, a project sponsor, said the goal is a protected colony of native seabirds.

"Seven acres doesn't sound big," he said, "but you can put a lot of birds in seven acres."

Project Coordinator Lindsay Young said shearwaters would be moved in from mountainside burrows on Kauai a month before their maiden flight to sea.

"The idea being it's right on the ocean, there are no lights in the area and they have a safe area to take off from," she said.

Shearwaters on maiden flights have become disoriented by confusing street and stadium lights with the moon. Predators also take a toll.

Project supporters hope translocated birds will return as breeders.

"Shearwaters are faithful to the site they fledge from," Wallace said.

The fencing will be similar to a barrier at Kaena Point on Oahu.

The complex expects to break ground on the fence next summer, and construction could take two to three months.

The green fence will be 6.5 feet high and 2,388 feet long. It will be built on a sea-facing slope following an existing roadbed and natural landscape contours so it's harder to see.

It will have a mesh skirt to keep out mice and a rolled hood to keep out larger predators. Similar fences have been used in in New Zealand and Australia.

The complex is soliciting public comment to identify concerns about the fence. Comments must be submitted by June 21.



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