Hawai'i Builds First Predator Proof Fence in U.S.
Hawai'i has erected the first predator-proof fence in the U.S., which is successfully keeping mice, rats, dogs, cats and mongooses from eating seabird eggs and chicks on the northwestern shore of the island of Oahu. Hawai'i's Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawai'i Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and other community groups collaborated on the project, which marks a significant milestone in a continuing battle to recover endangered bird species threatened by predation by invasive species.
The 2,040 foot long, 6.5 foot high fence consists of a high-tech metal mesh which can keep terrestrial predators from ground–nesting seabird nest sites. The FWS funded the $270,000 fence, which was installed last March around 59 acres of the Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve. Following installation, biologists conducted an extensive effort to trap and remove predators from within the enclosure. The initial results are encouraging, with chick survival at its highest for some species since the 1990s. The overhanging fence keeps animals from climbing over, and an underground mesh skirt keeps predators from tunneling underneath. Two more fences are being installed in the state, including one which is designed to keep out carnivorous snails. Eventually biologists hope to reintroduce the endangered Hawai'ian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis) and Newell's Shearwater (Puffinus newelli) to the reserve. The fence will also benefit native plants as well by keeping rats from eating native plant seeds.
Sources: E&E Publishing (Landletter, December 15, 2011), Hawai'i Division of Forestry and Wildlife