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Maui Lawmaker Calls on Governor to Resolve Bus Crisis

West Maui lawmaker Representative Angus McKelvey today called on Governor David Ige to intervene in the student transportation crisis that has adversely affected West Maui as well as other school districts on Maui and Kauai.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The situation is completely unacceptable, especially when you consider all the Lahainaluna High School students that need access to a campus that is not readily serviced by other transportation means including a county bus route,” McKelvey said. “The bus shortage has exasperated an already existing traffic problem as parents are now scrambling to get kids to school by their own means before the workday.”

McKelvey’s concerns are with parents and families who may not be able to afford private transportation and solely rely on the bus system to get their keiki to and from school.

“Parents who don’t have the means to afford last-minute private transportation are going to be stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to get the kids to school,” he said. “And, while the Department of Education’s relaxation of the tardy rules and breakfast times will help somewhat, many of these kids may be forced to miss large segments of school time. This, in turn, could result in inadvertent involvement in the court system for their parents because their children are not being at school for the required amount of time.”

McKelvey believes that “it is unfair to parents in this situation to be faced with potential legal consequences for actions beyond their control especially considering the last minute notification of the bus shortage.

“It is especially troubling that the DOE spokesperson said that there were no reported problems related to the bus issues only illustrates further that the DOE is disconnected from the challenges that we are facing with this issue here on West Maui,” McKelvey said.

The West Maui lawmaker also expressed his concern that the Board of Education allowed the bus contract issue to “spiral out of control” before the beginning of the school year and a shortage of drivers should have been discussed well before the start of school.

“The lack of qualified drivers for certain routes should also have been disclosed during the procurement process,” he said. “Especially when it is a new Oahu based vendor that has never provided any transportation for the schools in Maui before.

“On behalf of all the hard working parents and their keiki of West Maui, I am humbly asking the Governor to step in and have the Board of Education either issue a supplemental contract for the busing services at Lahainaluna High School, and any other areas, or rescind the contract in its entirety for failure to perform.

“With the start of the high school on Wednesday, and other major traffic events coming up, this situation could go from bad to very bad in a short period of time,” McKelvey said. “The bottom line is the vendor should be able to perform as promised, and did not timely notify the DOE. Therefore, the department and the Governor need to use their powers of the executive branch to take whatever actions are necessary to address this bus driver shortage – an issue which never should have occurred of in the first place.

“In an area where the schools are not serviced by county bus routes, an immediate busing option is needed, especially for parents and families who can’t afford to simply call a taxi or grab a rental car to get the kids to school before going to their two or three jobs needed just to make ends meet.”

School Bus Drivers Needed for Maui & Kauai Routes Before Fall Semester Begins On August 7

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) to service routes on Maui and Kauai. A current shortage of school bus drivers may affect Maui and Kauai routes when school begins on Monday, August 7.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The Department is working with our bus contractors and transportation partners to minimize any impacts to our students and families when the fall semester begins,” said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. “Some school bus routes are being consolidated and many will operate normally, but we hope to sign up additional drivers before the school year begins.”

For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170 as soon as possible.

Nearly Eleven Tons of Rubbish Removed From Kalalau in 2017

Since the first of this year, DLNR Division of State Parks maintenance staff on Kaua‘i have gathered, bagged, and airlifted 10.92 tons of rubbish from the Kalalau section of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.  At least monthly, regular clean-up operations, have resulted in between 520 pounds and 2380 pounds of trash and waste being airlifted by helicopter out of the area. During some months maintenance crews conducted two-to-four operations.

“Clearly this huge quantity of rubbish was not carried in on the backs of people who obtained permits to hike the 11 miles into Kalalau,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “Over the past two years we’ve made significant progress in dismantling illegal, long-term camps both at Kalalau beach and in more remote locations in Kalalau Valley. In collaboration with the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), we’ve made it very clear that we have zero tolerance for illegal activity in our state’s largest and most remote state park,” Cottrell added.

In June alone, during five clean-up days, helicopters sling-loaded nearly seven thousand pounds of trash and waste out of Kalalau. Human waste is shoveled into barrels out of composting toilets in the designated camping area fronting Kalalau beach and flown out for proper treatment and disposal.  State Park staff continues to be concerned about environmental degradation and health risks associated with people defecating in the forest and along the streams in the park and the associated impacts to archeological sites from being modified for camping uses.   “These are the critical reasons diligent attention must be directed to eliminating illegal activity at Kalalau and elsewhere in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.  As an example, by enforcing the limit of campers to the allowed 60 people each night, the composters should function as designed and our maintenance crew can turn their priorities to other site enhancements,” Cottrell said.

Regular monthly maintenance operations are conducted not only to clean-up the rubbish left at illegal camps and to remove human waste, but also to trim weeds, maintain signs and camp trails, and restock comfort stations.  The Division of State Parks plans to renew its request to the Hawai‘i State Legislature next year for permanent staffing at Kalalau to ensure higher quality of maintenance of the park’s wilderness character, protect cultural sites and to provide visitor information, as well as to maintain communications capability in case of emergencies and to report illegal activities to enforcement.

Rescued Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl Killed In Auto Collision

A young Pueo, or Hawaiian Short-eared Owl, rescued in late March, was killed by a car on the highway between Waimea and Hanapepe two months after it had been released. The owl was originally spotted on March 22, 2017 by Dr. André Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), who found it on the side of the road in Ele ele where it had also been struck by a car. He took the injured Pueo to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) facility at the Kaua‘i Humane Society for treatment and rehabilitation.

Raine said, “This is a sad end to a successful rehabilitation story, which involved the hard work of the dedicated staff at SOS and the Hawaii Wildlife Center who were successful in returning this young bird to health and releasing it back into the wild in late April. Tragically, as with so many of our endangered native birds, the Pueo was struck again by an automobile – this time fatally. This serves as yet another reminder for all of us who drive on Kauai’s roads, that we need to slow down and be aware of owls, Nene, fledgling seabirds and other birds that may be feeding or flying alongside or near roads and highways.”

Tracy Anderson of SOS, who examined the dead owl, said that the injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle. The bird was found 6 miles (as the bird flies) from the release location and was in good body condition which meant that she had been hunting and feeding successfully post-release. Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people. Anderson reminds people, “The act of throwing trash out your car window not only impacts the environment visually, but can have direct and detrimental effects on wild birds like pueo and nene.”

Over the past few months a public education campaign was initiated by DLNR and other partners to encourage people to watch for nene (native Hawaiian goose and Hawai‘i State Bird) alongside roadways. This included a public service announcement (PSA) that aired repeatedly on Kaua‘i’s cable television system, news releases and videos, and additional roadside signage in areas where nene are frequently spotted.

This is not the only Pueo found dead on the roads – two more dead Pueo were found on the same day as the rehabilitated bird in other parts of the island.

Another Pueo, also likely hurt in a car-bird collision on O‘ahu’s North Shore earlier this year could not be rehabilitated and had to be put to sleep. An entire family of nene depicted in a DLNR video, resting and feeding near the Hanalei River Bridge on Kaua‘i were also killed by a car.

Raine, Anderson, and others who work with native, wild birds agree that if drivers slow down and pay close attention in areas populated by birds, this will help reduce the number of deadly collisions between birds and cars.

Hawaii Update on Mumps: Outbreak Continues with 18 Additional Cases, Including 2 on Hawaii Island and 4 on Kauai

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 18 new cases of residents with the mumps, raising the total number of statewide cases this year to 172. Nine of the new cases of individuals are adults. Twelve of the cases are from Oahu, four are from Kauai and two are from Hawaii Island.

DOH continues to stress the importance of following its recommendations to help prevent the spread of mumps.“The important thing for people to remember is to keep their germs to themselves,” said Ronald Balajadia, Immunization Branch Chief, DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division. “We encourage the public to stay home when sick, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, wash their hands frequently and make sure they are fully vaccinated.”

DOH urges all adults born in or after 1957 without evidence of immunity to mumps to receive the MMR vaccine which prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second vaccine dose at a minimum of four weeks after the first dose. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. For this reason, being fully vaccinated is important in helping to protect family members, friends, coworkers, classmates, and your community.

DOH also recommends that all children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first of which is routinely given at age 12–15 months and the second dose at 4–6 years of age. However, because of the continued circulation of mumps in Hawaii, children between 1–4 years of age should receive their second dose now (a minimum of four weeks after the first dose).

To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

The majority of the 172 confirmed cases are on Oahu, with 13 on Kauai and three from Hawaii Island. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all are recovering. DOH expects more cases in the coming weeks as mumps is a highly-contagious disease.

DOH will post the latest mumps cases online at: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/ at 12 noon every Thursday. The site offers current information about the state’s ongoing investigation.

Hawaii DLNR Applauds Environmental Court for Sending Strong Message to Albatross Killer

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case today, applauded Environmental Court Judge Jeannette Castagnetti for sending a strong message to the community and to one of the men convicted of the brutal killing of albatross at Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on O‘ahu in December 2015.

“The fact that this man will serve jail time and community service recognizes the severity of these killings and the terrible impact it will have for years to come on the albatross breeding colony at Ka‘ena Point,” Case said after the sentencing of Christian Guiterrez. She added, “Jail time, combined with the fine, sends a very strong message to the community that there is no tolerance for abuse, destruction, or killing of Hawai‘i’s unique and precious wildlife – whether it’s albatross, monk seals, turtles, or anything else.”

Christian Guiterrez file photo

Case and Marigold Zoll, the O‘ahu Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife both presented victim impact statements during today’s sentencing. Zoll provided background on laws, funding, and on the public values of impacted resources. She pointed out that the Ka‘ena Point NAR has been under active management for the past 34 years by DLNR, contractors, conservation partners, and a wide variety of dedicated volunteers.

Zoll testified, “Unlike wildlife found in other places, albatross are so docile that I would trust my eight-year-old child to wander amongst them without threat of injury. The impact of this crime extends well beyond the 32 animals we know were killed. Based on conservative estimates of lifespan, reproduction rates and fledgling success we estimate we lost 320 animals from the intentional killing of 32 adults and eggs by Gutierrez and his friends.” Zoll concluded her testimony saying, “The Department considers the killing or taking or protected wildlife to be the most egregious trespass of our laws.”

DLNR is heartened by the tremendous amount of community outrage directed toward the perpetrators of this heartless action and believes that outrage helped inform the judicial system and today’s resulting sentence. Case said, “It showed that most people truly care about our natural resources and that when they are abused or mistreated in any way, they expect us, prosecutors, and the courts to do the right thing. Today a very strong message was sent that these crimes will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent possible.”

As part of her testimony Case played a DLNR produced video that depicts the work being done with the albatross colony at Ka‘ena Point NAR:

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park Showing Recovery and Improvement – Additional Arrests Made

A three day operation last week in the Kalalau section of Kauai’s Napali Coast State Wilderness Park resulted in additional arrests and the dismantling of large, illegal camps in Kalalau Valley.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “Our Divisions of State Parks and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are continuing to work together to restore lawfulness to Napali and address the natural and cultural resources damage created by long-term squatters and their illegal camps. These sustained efforts began more than two years ago and are beginning to pay off. Every week we receive correspondence from people who’ve legally hiked into Kalalau and are commenting on how clean the area is and how the number of illegal camps and campers are greatly diminished.”

State Parks Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter and archaeologist Sean Newsome conducted a rapid reconnaissance of cultural sites in Kalalau Valley a week before the combined clean-up and enforcement operation. Carpenter said, “In my 25 years of visiting Kalalau this is the cleanest I’ve ever seen it in terms of rubbish and illegal campers. The degradation to cultural sites is at an all-time high, however, because those impacts are cumulative, representing decades of abuse. Reversing those impacts and restoring sites is a future goal, requiring a combination of documentation, compliance, staffing and community stewardship. Clearly there is additional work to do to protect the important cultural resources and natural resources in this pristine area, but I’m heartened that the keen focus on Kalalau is definitely showing an improved experience for permitted visitors, who are generally not responsible for the degradation of Napali resources.”

A sure sign of improvement and the fact that the no-tolerance for illegal activity “word” is getting out, several DOCARE Officers report that in every contact they made along the trail, hikers had the required state permit. It is required for travel beyond the two-mile marker at Hanakapiai Stream and allows camping only designated camping areas such as the one at Kalalau Beach. During previous enforcement visits to the wilderness park, officers arrested dozens of people for failing to produce a permit.

DOCARE officers arrested six people for closed-area violations. They also eradicated eight young marijuana plants from an abandoned campsite. Squatters have also established elaborate gardens where they’re growing bananas, papaya, taro and other fruits. Officers provided support for a State Parks maintenance team, which removed 15 large illegal camps, plus additional smaller ones and gear stashes. Two and a half tons of rubbish was airlifted by a helicopter in 15 sling loads. Seven State Parks staff and between six and twelve DOCARE officers were involved daily during last week’s operation.

“These combined operations are logistically complex, costly and deplete operational funds that could be applied at other state parks,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “A critical method to enhance public safety, protect significant historic features and to ultimately insure the quality of the wildness experience is to create permanent staff with specific equipment for Kalalau. Dedicated staff will have communication access to deter the return of illegal camping and insure authorized limits, helping eliminate the overuse of composting toilets, provide additional campsite and trail maintenance service on a daily basis, direct campers to the authorized camping areas, further inform campers about on site safety issues and the sensitivity and history of cultural sites, and support both hikers and kayakers who may sustain injuries in this remote and unique wilderness destination,” Cottrell added.

The Division of State Parks is expected to renew its request to the 2018 Hawai‘i State Legislature to provide funding for full-time staff to support the management of Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote state park.

Dead Snake Found in Kauai Garden & Preserve

A jogger came across a dead snake on her morning jog today along Kuhio Highway in Haena, Kauai. The woman who found the snake is an intern with the Limahuli Garden & Preserve, which is near to where the snake was found. Another employee from the preserve retrieved the snake and inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) picked up the snake soon after it was reported.

The snake has been identified as a boa constrictor measuring about five feet in length. It is not known at this time what the sex of the snake is or how it died. It will be transported to Honolulu and arrangements have been made with a zoologist at the Bishop Museum who will examine and catalog the snake.

Both the Limahuli Garden & Preserve and HDOA are very concerned that this snake was found in an area that is a preserve for many endangered native birds and other biota.

Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America.  They can grow up to 12 feet in length and have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.  Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment.  Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.  Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in prison.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Man Arrested in Kauai Resort Burglary

Kaua‘i police arrested an ‘Anini man in connection with a burglary complaint at the Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville.

Jeremy Coyaso

Jeremy Coyaso, age 27, was arrested on June 9 in the Hanalei district for two outstanding warrants, in addition to Burglary in the second degree and Theft in the third degree.
Stolen property items, including chainsaws, were recovered during the arrest.

The investigation remains ongoing.

Coyaso is currently being held at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center (KCCC) with bail set at $2,000 for an unrelated case that also remains under investigation.

US Navy Missile Defense Test Fails Off Hawaii

An interceptor missile fired from a US Navy destroyer off the coast of Hawaii failed to hit it’s target, the US Missile Defense Agency said:

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and the Japan Ministry of Defense conducted a development flight test today of a new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile off the coast of Hawaii.

A planned intercept was not achieved.

US Navy destroyer John Paul Jones (DDG 53) fires a missile interceptor in this file photo

The SM-3 Block IIA is being developed cooperatively by the U.S. and Japan to defeat medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This is a new, developmental interceptor that is not yet fielded by either country.

At approximately 7:20 p.m., Hawaii Standard Time, June 21 (1:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, June 22), a medium-range ballistic target missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) detected and tracked the target missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar using the Aegis Baseline 9.C2 weapon system. Upon acquiring and tracking the target, the ship launched an SM-3 Block IIA guided missile, but the missile did not intercept the target.

Program officials will conduct an extensive analysis of the test data. Until that review is complete, no additional details will be available.

This was the fourth development flight test using an SM-3 IIA missile, and the second intercept test. The previous intercept test, conducted in February 2017, was successful.

Though currently still in the development and test phase, the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is being designed to operate as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. Currently, the Aegis BMD system operates with the SM-3 Block 1A, SM-3 Block 1B, and SM-6 interceptors.

Hawaii Department of Health Approves Production Centers for Medical Marijuana Licensees on Kauai and Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today issued Notices to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Manoa Botanicals LLC for their second production center on Oahu and to Green Aloha Ltd. for their first production center on Kauai. The licensees have met all requirements to begin growing marijuana at their approved facilities.

Manoa Botanicals is the third dispensary licensee to complete and operate two medical marijuana production centers. Green Aloha Ltd. is the is the fifth dispensary licensee to receive approval to acquire and grow marijuana at their first production center.  In May, Aloha Green Holdings and Maui Grown Therapies received approvals for their second production centers on Oahu and Maui respectively. In February, Pono Life Sciences on Maui became the fourth licensee to operate a production center.

“The dispensary licensees have made excellent progress in developing their production sites in compliance with all state laws and regulations to provide a safe product and ensure patient and public health and safety,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance. “All of the licensees have worked hard to meet state standards to create a quality industry in Hawaii.”

Brian Goldstein, chief executive officer of Manoa Botanicals said, “We’ve put considerable research, time and money into building a growing facility with the most current technology available to ensure consistent high quality products for our patients. Our nursery plants are ready to go, and we can’t wait to see our first harvest this summer.”

Justin Britt, chief executive officer of Green Aloha said, “It took a lot of work to comply with the state laws and regulations to grow cannabis, but it is all worth it because the result is safer, higher quality medicine for Kauai’s patients.”

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include building a secure, enclosed indoor facility; operating a computer software tracking system that interfaces with the state’s system and submits current inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center; and authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Hawaii State Department of Public Safety.

More information on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/.

A total of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses were issued in April 2016. Three dispensary licenses for the City and County of Honolulu were issued to Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.; Manoa Botanicals, LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. Two licenses for the County of Hawaii were issued to Hawaiian Ethos, LLC and Lau Ola, LLC. Two licenses for the County of Maui were issued to Maui Wellness Group, LLC and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. One license for the County of Kauai was issued to Green Aloha, Ltd.

Each dispensary licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensary locations statewide. Each production center may grow up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

8 Additional Mumps Cases Reported in Hawaii – Outbreak Continues

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed eight (8) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 89. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all have recovered or are recovering.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu. Information on case numbers is updated regularly at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

The DOH is recommending all adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps, who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive at least one MMR vaccine dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose, are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Radar Studies on Kaua`i Highlight Perilous State of Endangered Seabirds

An analysis of long-term radar studies on Kaua‘i has revealed massive declines in populations of the island’s two endangered seabirds, the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP) announced today.  The study, due to be published online in the scientific journal Condor on June 5th, shows that between 1993 and 2013 populations of the ‘A‘o (Newell’s Shearwater) declined by 94% and Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel)  by 78%.

Newell’s Shearwater chick. Photo by Andre Raine

“The results of this study demonstrate just how poorly these two iconic birds have fared on Kaua‘i over that time period,” said Dr. André Raine, lead author of the paper.  “With the majority of our radar sites showing massive decreases in numbers of these birds over the years, populations of the birds are in a rapid downward trajectory – particularly in the south and east of the island.  The study highlights just how critical recent conservation initiatives for the species on Kaua‘i are if we are to have a hope of reversing the situation.”

The study used truck mounted radar at 15 standard sites around the island.  Radar surveys at these sites were started in 1993 by Robert Day and Brian Cooper of ABR Inc., and were continued near-annually by the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project from 2006 onwards.  Radar is utilized worldwide to study birds and is a key tool to monitor the island’s seabirds as they fly overhead in darkness to and from their breeding colonies and the sea.  The radar allows observers to “see” the birds flying overhead in the darkness as a series of dots passing across the radar screen.  By assessing the speed of movement, the direction of travel, and the time that the event is recorded, birds are identified to species.

“Kaua‘i’s endangered seabirds are under threat from a whole suite of issues, including introduced predators such as feral cats, powerline collisions, light attraction and invasive plants – as well as threats at sea which could include overfishing, by-catch and the effects of climate change.

Kaua‘i holds 90% of the world’s population of ‘A‘o and a significant proportion of the world’s population of Ua‘u, so it is vital that we protect these birds,” continued Dr Raine. “Recent conservation initiatives on the island from a wide range of different organizations, land-owners and entities have shown that people are become more and more aware of the perilous state of these birds.  This gives me hope that we can reverse these spiraling trends.”

Radar work will continue on Kaua‘i in 2017, starting now until the middle of July.  For more information on this critical component of KESRP’s work, please visit the project website at http://kauaiseabirdproject.org/. The Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project is a joint project between the Department of Land & Natural Resources (Division of Forestry & Wildlife) and the University of Hawai‘i (Pacific Co-operative Studies Unit).  Radar surveys are funded via a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Continues – Seven New Cases Confirmed

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed six (6) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps and one additional case of a resident on Kauai bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 65. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults whose infection is linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the individuals required hospitalization.The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu. Information on case numbers is updated regularly at http://health.hawaii.gov/…/department-of-health-investigat…/.

Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also spread by sharing items such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Prevent the spread of mumps in our community by:

  • Ensuring your family is fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. High vaccination coverage helps to limit the spread of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.
  • Patients suspected or diagnosed with mumps should self-isolate and avoid going out and exposing others for nine (9) days after onset of parotitis (tender, swollen jaw).
  • People who have been exposed to mumps and are not vaccinated should not attend school, work or travel from day 12 through day 25 after exposure.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/…/vaccines-immun…/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1

Eleven Arrests, Marijuana Plants, and Illegal Crossbow Mark Latest Napali Enforcement Effort

Work to restore the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park to its true wilderness character continued during a three-day law enforcement operation this week. A dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Dept. of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division arrested eleven people for being in a closed area without a permit in the Kalalau area of the park.  A twenty-year-old man, who could not produce an identification, was handcuffed and flown out of the park and booked on charges at the Kaua‘i Police Department.  So far in May, a total of 28 people have been arrested for failing to have the permit required for traveling past the two-mile marker on the famed Kalalau Trail.  During law enforcement efforts over the past two years more than 200 people have been arrested.

“We still have work to do,” commented DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. On this, his first trip to the Nāpali Coast since becoming state conservation enforcement chief, he joined his officers as they hiked up the rugged Kalalau Valley in search of illegal squatter camps.  On Wednesday they located numerous camps.  At two, they pulled up small marijuana plants.  At one they confiscated an illegal crossbow. Both camps are well established and elaborate.  One, where squatters had recently posted a web video depicting a brazen party and all the comforts of home, had a pizza oven, an enclosure with a queen-sized bed, what appeared to be an alcohol still, and an extensive system of solar and battery powered lights for its marijuana growing operation.

Farrell added, “The Nāpali coast is very, very remote. It’s logistically challenging to get officers to the area and it’s difficult to have them stay for long-periods of time for sustained enforcement. Beyond satellite phones, there’s no communications. There are a lot of places for people to run and hide, and though clearly some of the camps had significant populations, once they know we’re coming in, they hide.  DOCARE plans to increase its frequency of patrols, which unfortunately means shorting attention in other areas.  The division fully supports the Division of State Parks’ continuing efforts to secure funding for dedicated, full-time staff in Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote park to provide education, outreach, emergency response assistance, and law enforcement notification.”

The chief, who has previously worked as a game warden in California as well as in the field on Hawaiʻi Island, said, “What’s happening in Kalalau is reminiscent of illegal pot growing operations on state and federal lands in California.  Like the California marijuana growers, the Kalalau squatters have no regard for the law or for protection of natural and cultural resources.

He added, “People with permits should be able to enjoy one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes on the planet without the fear of being harassed or having their experience diminished or threatened by those who simply do what they want, where they want, and how they want.  We are continuing to have zero tolerance for these kinds of behaviors and when we catch you, you will be arrested.”

The Nāpali coast enforcement operations are fully supported by DLNR leadership. Chair Suzanne Case said, “Law abiding local residents and visitors from all over the world get permits to make the challenging and rewarding 11-mile, one-way hike to the State designated camping area at Kalalau Beach.  We’re charged with determining the carrying capacity of both the natural resource and manmade features there, and want to ensure that visitors to this incredible place take away positive memories.  Many have planned for a life-time to do the Kalalau backpack, and we intend to honor their dreams and accomplishments by ensuring Nāpali is a true wilderness.”

May 2017 Napali Enforcement VNR from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

12 New Cases of Mumps Reported in Hawaii in Last Two Days

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today (May 16, 2017: DOH has confirmed three (3) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.) confirmed three (3) additional cases of mumps in Hawaii residents, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 42.

Yesterday, Department of Health confirmed 9 new cases. Of the cases confirmed yesterday, eight (8) of the cases live on Oahu and one (1) case resides on Kauai. Thus far, no cases have required hospitalization. This ongoing investigation represents the largest number of mumps cases seen in Hawaii since 2001.The recently confirmed cases include children and adults at Central Middle School and the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo. The remaining cases are made up of individuals whose source of exposure is still under investigation. DOH is working closely with both the Department of Education and Job Corps Center to contact and notify those individuals who may have come into contact with confirmed cases during their infectious periods.

At this point in the investigation, the confirmed adult resident from Kauai cannot be linked to the clusters identified on Oahu. The case has no known travel history and investigation is ongoing to determine if this case is a new introduction or part of the larger Oahu outbreak.

“Mumps is a highly contagious disease and we expect to see more cases as this outbreak continues,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “We have alerted healthcare providers and ask them for vigilance in controlling the disease and its spread with careful, early diagnosis. If people think they may have mumps, seek medical attention immediately as this illness is most contagious in the several days before and after the onset of parotitis, which is the swelling of the salivary glands in front of the ears.”

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated is important in helping to protect the public’s health across the state.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Timeline:

  • May 16, 2017: DOH has confirmed three (3) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.
  • May 15, 2017: DOH today confirmed nine (9) additional cases of mumps in Hawaii residents, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 39.  Of the cases confirmed today, eight (8) of the cases live on Oahu and one (1) case resides on Kauai.  This ongoing investigation represents the largest number of mumps cases seen in Hawaii since 2001.
  • May 12, 2017: DOH today confirmed three (3) additional cases of mumps in residents in East Oahu.  This brings the total number of cases in 2017 to 30. The Department is investigating a cluster of cases exposed at the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo.  Those who came in contact with the individuals during their infectious period are being notified.  The Department of Health is working closely with the Job Corps Center to monitor all program participants and staff to identify, control, or prevent additional cases.
  • May 11, 2017: DOH has confirmed four (4) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.  As of May 11, there are a total of 27 cases reported for 2017.  Mumps is currently circulating not only in Hawaii, but also nationwide and in international areas.  The Centers For Disease Control’s (CDC) webpage at: (https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html) shows many mumps outbreaks and clusters, some of which have been on-going since last year.  Nationwide from Jan. 1 to April 22, 2017, a total of 42 states and the District of Columbia reported mumps infections in 2,570 people.  DOH’s investigation of reported cases is continuing.
  • May 8, 2017: DOH continues to investigate an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide.  The number of confirmed cases of mumps for 2017 is 23.  The disease has been confirmed in children and adults, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.  As the numbers of cases investigated related to the initial two clusters increases, the identification of new isolated (i.e., no travel and no relation to those clusters) cases grows.  To date, none of the infected individuals have required hospitalization for mumps.
  • April 28, 2017: DOH has been investigating an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide. Since March 2017, DOH has become aware of two clusters of cases, together involving at least nine (9) individuals on Oahu, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide this year to fourteen (14).

CRACKDOWN – 17 People Arrested for Closed Area Violations at Kalalau

Seventeen people were arrested at the Kalalau Section of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, during a pair of law enforcement sweeps earlier this week. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) arrested people without valid permits for being in a closed area. They believe among the 17, were three people who’d been illegally residing in Kalalau Valley for long periods of time.

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell said, “We continue to hear about a lot of illegal activity at Kalalau through social media channels. Some of the behavior depicted on blogs and websites is brazen, clearly illegal, disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture, damaging to natural resources, and completely devoid of any appreciation for the wilderness character of the Napali Coast.”

DOCARE Kaua‘i Branch Chief Francis “Bully” Mission added, “The designated camping areas at Kalalau Beach are largely free of illegal camps, but there are still numbers of them up in the valley, where they tend to be remote and often pretty well hidden. It makes it challenging for our officers, but we remain committed to stopping illegal behavior in this wilderness park.”

Enforcement operations to the Napali Coast are expensive, complicated, and time-consuming not only for DOCARE, but also for the DLNR Division of State Parks. It conducts at least monthly air-lifts of accumulated rubbish and human waste. Both Chief Farrell and State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell noted that as Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote state park, funding has never been provided for having any full-time staff assigned to the Napali Coast.

Cottrell observed, “If there’s any silver lining to what law breakers are posting on social media, is that it’s caused significant public outrage. Our hope is to get new positions and funding authorized specifically dedicated to the Napali Coast to tackle this ongoing issue.”

DOCARE and State Parks are continuing to collaborate on future law enforcement and clean-up operations as resources permit. Officers continue to take a hard line against anyone contacted who can’t produce a permit. “No permit and you will be arrested and then have to appear in court,” Chief Farrell said.

Travel from the Kalalau Trailhead at Ke’e Beach does not require a permit to Hanakapiai Stream; the first two miles of the trail and another two miles, up valley after the stream crossing to Hanakapiai Falls. The nine miles of coastline trail beyond the stream crossing requires an overnight permit, obtainable from State Parks.

Malama the Napali Coast Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Rescue, Rehab and Release for Kaua`i Pueo

After more than a month of rehabilitation a pueo (Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl) was released late yesterday on private ranch land in west Kaua‘i. The release site is near to where the young bird was rescued in late March and taken to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) facility at the Kaua‘i Humane Society.

Dr. Andre Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), spotted the bird struggling alongside the highway on March 22nd. Raine normally works with threatened and endangered seabirds, which given him a keen eye for all bird species.  His wife and daughter watched, as his son was given the honor of opening a cardboard carrier to let the rehabilitated pueo return to the wild.

Tracy Anderson of SOS said, “After Dr. Raine brought the bird to us, we treated her head and eye injuries and a fractured radius in her left wing. On April 11th she was flown to the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center on the Big Island so that she could continue her rehabilitation in their large flight aviary. She healed up nicely and was flying so the wildlife center sent her back to us yesterday for release.”  Anderson theorizes the young pueo was hit by a car. Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people.  Anderson and others who work with endemic birds like the pueo remind people that the act of throwing trash on the ground not only impacts the environment visually but can have a direct and detrimental effect on wildlife like pueo.

Pueo are found on all of the main Hawaiian Islands and on Oah‘u they are listed by the State as endangered.  Specific population numbers are hard to come by. On Oah‘u, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) is currently developing study parameters for conducting an island-wide survey of the owl. The pueo is one of the more famous of the various physical forms assumed by ʻaumākua (ancestor spirits) in Hawaiian culture.

On a country road, near Kalāheo, eight- year- old Callum Raine, under the watchful eye of Anderson slowly opens the box carrying the pueo and tips it up.  The bird looks around for a few seconds and then hops out onto the road.  It then spends a few minutes fluffing its wings and surveying its territory before flying off into the sunset. Prior to its release a metal band with a unique identifying number was put on one of its legs so it can be identified if it’s ever picked up again.

The owl’s fate is much more positive than that of a pueo rescued by an Oah‘u family on a North Shore road earlier this year.  A fracture in that bird’s wing was not going to heal properly, it would not be able to fly again, so it had to be put to sleep.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Concerns Grows for Young Monk Seal on Kaua`i

After wildlife biologists and veterinarians relocated a 10-month-old Hawaiian monk seal on March 30th from the Lihi Canal in Kapa‘a, to a beach on the island’s west side they’d hoped she would stay away from the canal.  Two days ago the seal, identified as RH92, returned to the canal along with an adult seal (RK13). Together they’ve been seen feeding on small fish in the manmade waterway along with discarded fish parts. The return of RH92 to Lihi is prompting stepped-up public awareness and outreach and potentially enforcement of littering laws for fishermen who dispose of fish parts in the water.

Jamie Thomton, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained, “Any time you attract a wild animal into an area where human use is high, you’re increasing the risk of interaction between people and the seal.  You’re also exposing the seal to more risks, such as fishing nets that might be in the water, fishing hooks or strikes by boats.”  The endangered Hawaiian monk seal is protected by both federal and state laws, and injuring or killing a seal carries serious penalties.

The day after RH92 (now carrying a radio transmitter on her back so her movements can be tracked), returned to the canal she rested and basked in the sun on nearby Fuji beach.  As is standard practice with any of Kaua‘i’s population of an estimated 45 Hawaiian monk seals, volunteers posted signs asking people to give her wide berth. “We try to foster the co-existence with public education and outreach,” said Mimi Olry, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Field Coordinator with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).  She added, “We depend on people taking up a sense of doing what’s appropriate around these large marine mammals.  We’d like to see people respect them, give them their space, and not to create situations that put both seals and humans at risk.”

The disposal of litter, like fish parts, is not only illegal, they decompose in water that people fish and swim in. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are increasing their visibility and patrols at Lihi. For now they want to be sure captains, crews, and fishers on boats that launch from the canal’s ramp know that disposing of any fish parts in the water is against the law. If one-on-one education doesn’t work DOCARE officers may begin writing citations for littering.

Monk seals frequently explore inland fresh waterways like streams and rivers. The attraction of discarded fish parts in these areas is particularly hazardous for young monk seals. Over the past two and a half years, two yearling seals were found dead in the Lihi Canal. It’s believed they drowned, possibly after getting entangled in fish nets. Neither seal had any sign of disease or obvious trauma.

“The last thing we want is to lose RH92, because she’s come back to Lihi, for the easy food of discarded fish guts, heads, and tails,” Thomton said.  He added, “We’re focusing outreach, education and possible enforcement efforts on boat fishing, as this is where the parts are coming from.”  The law requires that all fish parts be thrown into garbage cans provided at all State of Hawai‘i small boat harbors.

Hawaiian monk seals feed mostly on small reef fish, tako (octopus), and lobsters. Despite beliefs to the contrary, they do not feed on fish like ono, ahi, and mahi mahi.  Extensive scientific studies have shown what species of prey the monk seals prefer, and there’s no evidence that they feed on the large, fast moving pelagic fish that deep sea fishermen prefer.

Moreover, according to DAR’s Mimi Olry, “Top predators like seals and sharks help keep reef fish populations healthy, because just like wolves on the land, they pick out the sick and injured fish to feed on. Marine mammals are part of our ecosystem and the Hawaiian monk seal is a sentinel species, in that the health of its population can provide advance warnings about environmental conditions for people. We can and should co-exist with them”

There are no plans to move RH92 a second time and it’s hoped with increased outreach and education people will stop throwing fish scraps into the water and she’ll move on to safer locales.