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Protecting Hawaii’s Large Birds

Posted by Gail Keirn, APHIS Legislative and Public Affairs in Animals
Jul 26, 2021
WS canine teams (left to right) Cliff Silva with Quade and Caesar Trinidad with Quinn

In May, APHIS was awarded the prestigious Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The recognition is for Wildlife Services (WS) work with diverse partners to protect the Hawaiian goose and Laysan albatross from dangerous collisions with aircraft and to increase the birds’ populations and nesting habitats.

The Laysan albatross spends much of its life at sea, only coming to shore to nest. When they land, some of the 2.5 million albatross that touch down in the Hawaiian archipelago try nesting on a U.S. Navy airfield on Kauai, Hawaii, causing safety issues.

The threatened Hawaiian goose or nēnē is the State bird of Hawaii. It is a culturally significant bird unfortunately attracted to the lush grass of a golf course within the civilian Lihue Airport on Kauai.

To protect the birds and prevent potential birdstrikes, WS employed different nonlethal methods.

WS personnel (left to right) Craig Clark, Jason Suckow, Katherine Rubiano, and Brian Washburn attaching a transmitter to a Hawaiian goose

For the geese, WS captured and placed transmitters on the birds to track their movements. They then used canine teams to haze and disperse the geese from areas near Lihue Airport. The transmitters enabled WS to track and understand the birds' response to canine teams.

Within the first few weeks, goose presence decreased. As time passed, the transmitter tracking data provided a better understanding of the birds’ annual movements and habitat use.

For the Laysan albatross, WS’ worked with partners to relocate birds and eggs and place radio transmitters on albatross to determine the effectiveness of mitigation translocation (i.e., capturing, marking, and moving birds). Data is showing these efforts are benefitting people and birds.

For more information on these Wildlife Services efforts, please visit:

Category/Topic: Animals