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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.

Injured Pueo Rescued by Trio of Citizens and DOCARE Officer

When 7-year-old Malia Rillamas first spotted the bird, she pointed it out to her dad Jonathan.  The family, from Haleiwa, pulled off the country road on O‘ahu’s north shore on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2017 to see if they could help.  A short time later Brian Smith of Wahiawa also pulled over.  Together the trio watched as the pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl), hopped across the road and ultimately into a deep roadside ditch. They discussed what to do and who to call and eventually called 9-1-1 which put them in touch with the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE).

DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell said, “When these folks contacted us we dispatched Officer Brent Murphy.  There was a lapse of several hours between the time Jonathan, Brian, and Malia first encountered the pueo and Officer Murphy’s arrival.  Yet, rather than just driving away, they kept watch over this native rare bird (listed as endangered on O‘ahu), and did their best to keep it calm and safe.”  Ultimately they helped Officer Murphy extract the bird from the ditch and put it into a plastic crate.  Officer Murphy then drove it to Aloha Animal Hospital. It’s one of just a few veterinary clinics on the island with a permit to care for endangered or threatened species. Chief Farrell continued, “We can’t protect our natural and cultural resources without the engagement of all of Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors. Our officers can’t be everywhere all the time and we deeply appreciate when folks get involved to the extent they did with this hurt pueo.”

Dr. Douglas Chang is the veterinarian at Aloha Animal Hospital.  For several decades, he and his team have provided care for endemic, endangered and threatened species to Hawaii. As for the condition of the pueo currently under their care, Dr. Chang said, “Radiographs revealed fractured bones in the elbow. Our hope is this pueo will survive and regain full capability to survive back in the wild.”  In the event that doesn’t happen, staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) have been in contact with several licensed facilities that are interested in accepting the bird.

Jonathan Rillimas explains that there was little question that he, his daughter, and Brian would wait with the bird until it could be rescued.  He said, “We believe, like many Hawaiians, it’s Hawai‘i culture; it’s an ‘aumakua (family deity). The more that we protect and preserve them and take care of them, they spiritually watch over us.”

At a news conference today, DLNR Chair Suzanne Case presented the Rillimas’, Smith, Dr. Chang & staff with the first DLNR & YOU Citizen Conservationist awards. Case said, “This is our way of recognizing people who go that extra step toward helping us effectively manage and protect Hawai‘i’s precious resources.  In the future we hope to single out many of our citizen partners for the roles they play in making Hawai‘i the special place we all cherish; by helping watch over and care for all creatures great and small.”

The recipients of the DLNR & YOU Citizen Conservationist awards receive a framed certificate. DLNR staff across all divisions are now being encouraged to nominate other people for their contributions to the preservation and protection of our resources.

PUEO Commentary – Disagreement in Claims that Native Hawaiians are Against TMT

National media coverage of the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (“TMT”) has consistently reported that Native Hawaiians are against its construction. We from Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc. (“PUEO”) strongly disagree with these claims.

TMT laser

Latest polling on Oahu shows not only a majority of voters support the TMT project, but support from Native Hawaiians has grown into a majority. PUEO is buoyed by the news of poll numbers conducted by Ward Research for the Star Advertiser showing 76% support for TMT with 57% of Native Hawaiians in favor.

As we have stated, PUEO hopes to bring a vision of clarity and unity to the process through the perpetuation of unique educational opportunities for our children. We believe that our voice of inclusiveness is getting heard in our communities, and that moving forward with aloha, and integrating culture and science are in the best interests for Hawai`i’s future.

PUEO is a Native Hawaiian led non-profit dedicated to enhancing and creating educational opportunities for Hawaii’s youth and their communities. PUEO’s focus on bridging traditional knowledge and scientific opportunities are specific to Hawaii and Hawaiian Culture.

In addition to the restoration of the voyaging canoe, Hokualakai, we also provide opportunities for kids to engage in hands-on, inter-disciplinary learning environments. Our intent is based on a unifying vision of Hawaiian language, culture, science, technology and exploration. PUEO seeks to provide and enhance the opportunities for our children to continue the Hawaiian tradition and culture of exploration and learning to all members of our communities.

PUEO recognizes the importance of Hawaii’s children to seek knowledge from all sources in order to survive and thrive and to create careers that sustain the survival of their families and needs in Hawaii into the future. PUEO was born to assist our children in this traditional and noble journey.

For more information on PUEO, the public is invited to contact us at www.alohapueo.org.