World Fence News

February 2015

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40 • FEBRUARY 2015 • WORLD FENCE NEWS First predator-proof fence on island of Kauai is designed to protect threatened birds, plants WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several rare native plant and animal commu- nities that have inhabited a roughly eight-acre area at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the is- land of Kauai in Hawaii – including imperiled bird species found nowhere else on earth – will be protected from predators due to the installation of a predator-proof fence that stretches al- most a half-mile in length, according to American Bird Conservancy. The effort is a collaboration that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex, American Bird Conservancy, the Pacifi c Rim Con- servation, and the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (a Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife/Pacifi c Cooperative Studies Unit project). The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided funding support. The state-of-the-art fence took about three months to construct and will keep introduced mammalian predators, including cats, dogs, rats, and mice, out of the area so that native species such as the endangered Ha- waiian Goose, the Laysan Albatross, and rare plants can fl ourish again in a protected environment. In addition, the absence of intro- duced predators make this restored site an appropriate translocation site for the threatened Newell's Shearwa- ter and for the reintroduction of rare native plants, ABC said. This type of fencing has been used with great success in New Zea- land and on the island of Oahu at Kae- na Point, where predator exclusion resulted in record numbers of seabird chicks fl edging in the year immedi- ately following the project's comple- tion, as well as natural colonization by Black Noddy, a seabird species not previously recorded breeding on Oahu, in its third year. It is hoped that similar outcomes will be achieved on Kauai, ABC com- mented. "To have planned, broken ground, and fi nished construction in a two-year timeframe is a phenomenal success and an incredible accomplishment that our partners, ABC and Pacifi c Rim Conservation, have made possi- ble," stated Shannon Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service project leader. The planned translocation of Newell's Shearwater is a particularly important aspect of the project. "We have seen a dramatic decline in the population of Newell's Shear- water in recent years due to a range of issues, with an estimated 75 percent decline in the last 15 years," said Dr. André Raine of the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project. "The establishment of a new col- ony using predator-proof fences is an important management tool to help re- verse this decline." "Predator-proof fencing is a con- servation strategy that we are going to see used more and more in Hawaii as we struggle to deal with widespread non-native predator populations on very large islands," said George Wal- lace, vice-president of the American Bird Conservancy. "One of those species that may particularly benefi t is the Newell's Shearwater, which is threatened by non-native predators in their montane nesting areas. Creation of a colony protected from predators will be a major step forward in recovering the species." Stretching for about four-and-a- half miles, the fence is approximately six-and-a-half feet tall and encloses an area of 7.8 acres. It is built entirely of stainless steel to resist the harsh marine environ- ment. The main panels of the fence are made with mesh so fi ne that even mammals as small as a two-day-old mouse cannot enter. The top of the fence has an arched hood that extends outward to prevent animals from climbing over. It was constructed by Honolu- lu-based JBH, Ltd., the contractor that also built the Kaena Point fence. Now that the fence is in place, work can begin to humanely remove non-native predators from the enclosure and re- store native plant communities. "We are very excited to be mov- ing into the next phase of the project by removing the existing predators from within the reserve and beginning active restoration of the native spe- cies," said Lindsay Young, the project coordinator with Pacifi c Rim Conser- vation. "We hope this is the fi rst of many projects like this on Kauai." 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