DLNR investigating dead and missing albatross, destroyed nests and eggs

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The Department of Land and Natural Resources is investigating the deaths of three Laysan albatross and numerous destroyed nests in the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve on Oahu.

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The Department of Land and Natural Resources is investigating the deaths of three Laysan albatross and numerous destroyed nests in the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve on Oahu.

An officer from DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, accompanied by the natural area reserve manager, a natural area reserve specialist and a seabird biologist, conducted a site visit Wednesday following a report from a resident on Monday.

As of last week there were 75 active nests at Kaena. A completed nest inventory Wednesday revealed that there were a total of 15 nests that were destroyed with either smashed, dead, or missing eggs. Of these nests, 12 of the attending adults are missing and bodies of three adult birds were found.

Seabird monitoring cameras and sound equipment are also missing with a replacement value of $3,100, DLNR said.

Normally in a nesting pair, one parent always stays on the nest to incubate the egg while the other forages – they never leave an unattended egg, so the fact that 12 nests were unattended by an adult is suspect, DLNR said.

DLNR is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement office and Honolulu Police Department on the investigation. The three adult carcasses were taken for necropsy to U.S. Geological Survey Honolulu office for a necropsy identify cause of death. This process is expected to take several weeks.

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The Laysan albatross is listed as near threatened under the IUCN Red List, is a federally protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and protected under state wildlife rules. Kaena Point is the main albatross nesting site on Oahu and one of the best studied albatross colonies in the world as all of the individuals have been banded providing unique information on individual life histories.

Wildlife organizations and residents, with the help of DLNR, are offering a $10,000 reward for the successful arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this crime.