Kaua‘i’s New Predator Fence

Oct 29, 2015

Hawaiian nene at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii.
Credit USFWSmidwest / Flickr

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the north shore of Kauai is one of the most visited national parks in the country.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the refuge every year. It’s home to some of the largest populations of nesting seabirds in Hawai‘i - and now Fish and Wildlife officers are taking a new step to protect some of the most endangered bird species in the world.

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge personnel have long been limited in their ability to protect endangered species from invasive mammals that prey on ground nesting birds, their eggs and native plant seeds.  Rats and feral cats steal eggs and kill young birds.  Loose dogs have been known to kill adult endangered birds and even mice cause damage. 

But a safe zone has recently been established with the completion of a state-of-the-art “predator-proof” fence. It rings a six-acre oasis for endangered sea birds and native plant species.  The fence is six-and-a-half feet tall and about half a mile long.  It is constructed of stainless steel mesh so tiny a baby mouse would not be able to squeeze through.  It is topped with a rounded hood to stop any predator from climbing over it and a horizontal steel-mesh skirt prevents predators from digging under it. 

Existing predators within the fence have been eradicated and habitats are being established in anticipation of the introduction of several severely endangered bird species. Those include `A`o (Newell’s Shearwater) – which are found nowhere else in the world and have declined in population 75% in the last 15 years – and `Ua`u (Hawaiian Petrel).  The predator-proof fence will also provide protected shelter for Nene (Hawaiian Goose), Moli (Laysan Albatross) and other ground-nesting native birds, as well as for the Refuge’s collection of re-introduced rare native plant species.