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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

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Thursday
May242012

End of Kauai's wild chicken population in sight?

According to a report on KHON 2 News, the first live mongoose to be captured on Kauai was trapped at the Marriott Kauai Lagoons on May 23, 2012.

Could this mean that active colonies of mongoose established on Kauai, could knock down the feral chicken problem? Kauai is the only Hawaiian Island where  colorful roosters and chickens can be found in every park, parking lot, back yard and beach.

Originally brought by the ancient Hawaiians as "canoe food", the wild chickens teamed up with caged white farm chickens after several hurricanes on Kauai. The result is history in the form of brightly plumaged roosters and chickens, well, everywhere!

Kauai is the only island where mongoose were not intentionally introduced, which is why there has been success in building populations of ground-nesting birds like nene geese -- an endangered species.

Mongoose eat eggs and chicks, so they can have a devastating affect on wildlife, domestic fowl and game cocks. The Indian Gray Mongoose and others are well known for their ability to fight and kill  venomous snakes, particularly cobras.  They are adept at such tasks due to their agility, thick coat, and evolved  acetylcholine receptors, which render them resistant or immune to snake venom.

Mongooses were brought to Hawaii by the Sugar Industry in 1883 in a failed attempt to control rats in the sugar cane fields. They prey on turtle eggs, birds and other animals, and they can also carry deadly diseases like leptospirosis. Mongooses have no natural predators in the Islands to keep their numbers in check. They are not only a threat to bird populations but also to domestic pets including dogs and cats.

Wildlife managers have long worried that mongoose might get established on Kauai. In 19176 a female was discovered dead on Kaumualii Highway near Kalaheo, but none have been found since then. There have been, however, more than 160 reports of sightings in the last 44 years, with over 70 in the last decade alone. 

Sightings have been reported from Mana to Lumahai, including Kokee, with the highest concentration in the Lihue-Puhi area. KISC and DOFAW have been engaged in active trapping and detection efforts in recent years, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services traps within the airport fence. Rana Biological Consulting Inc., which oversees endangered bird protection at Kauai Lagoons, has been monitoring the resort grounds for avian predators.