50 Nene Killed by Vehicles on Kaua’i Highways in the Last Two Years

In the final weeks of 2016, eight Nene (Hawaiian Goose) have been killed by vehicles along a two mile stretch of the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha. Nene are only found in Hawai‘i and are listed as endangered due to their low number, with an estimated 1,200 remaining on Kaua‘i. In the past two years 50 Nene have been struck and killed by cars across the roadways of Kaua‘i. Typically the majority of vehicle strikes occur in Hanalei and Kilauea, however the most recent strikes are occurring on the west side of the island.

It is believed that 25,000 Nene were present in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain Cook arrived in 1778. By the mid 1940’s only 50 birds remained. Since then, through captive breeding efforts and extensive predator control the population is beginning to grow with almost 3,000 birds statewide. Even with ongoing conservation efforts Nene are still considered to be the rarest goose species in the world.

Nene begin building nests and laying eggs as early as August although the greatest number of road strikes occur  between December and April during the peak of the breeding and molting season. It is during this time of year that both adults and goslings are flightless for a period of time and are especially vulnerable. Nene are often seen foraging along the edges of highways  and ditches as a result of regular mowing and runoff from the pavement creating especially desirable grass in these areas.

Jean Olbert, a Nene biologist with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “With recent rains on the west side, reports of Nene crossing the highway in Kekaha have increased dramatically. Nene regularly cross the road in the evening and early morning hours making it even more important to be on the lookout during these times. Nene remain with their mates for life and travel with their families during this time of year. After a Nene is killed on a road the remaining family members are often unwilling to leave the body, resulting in multiple birds being killed over a short period of time.”

Nene crossing signs have recently been posted by the Department of Transportation along the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha and the Kuhio Highway in Hanalei in regions where birds frequently cross roadways. DLNR/DOFAW is working with county and state transportation departments and federal partners to potentially add more signs in high-strike zones. Drivers are asked to please slow down and be extra attentive in these areas, especially in low light conditions.

To report an injured or dead bird on Kaua‘i please contact the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 808-274-3433.

Zika Found in Hawaii Years Before Caribbean Outbreak

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) scientists have discovered that severe birth defects related to infection with the Zika virus (ZIKV) occurred much earlier than in 2016, when the connection was first made between the virus and an increased likelihood of microcephaly during outbreaks of ZIKV infection in Brazil and Puerto Rico.

UH scientists published their findings in December in the scientific journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, adding to the potential evidence of a link between ZIKV infection and microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development and characterized by an abnormal smallness of the head.

Patient information and blood samples were collected voluntarily from mothers in Honolulu who delivered babies between 2007 and 2013 at the Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children, a Hawaiʻi Pacific Health hospital affiliated with JABSOM. The samples were collected and stored at the UH Biorepository (UHB) after obtaining written informed consent from the mothers.

“As per the information in the UHB, no mothers gave birth to babies with microcephaly in 2007 and 2008,” said Vivek R. Nerurkar, chair of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology. “However, from 2009 onwards, we identified six mothers who gave birth to babies with microcephaly. Of the six, ZIKV antibodies were detected in three, fifty percent, of the mothers who delivered babies with microcephaly, suggesting presence of positive Zika virus cases and associated microcephaly in the United States as early as 2009.”

Potential changes to women’s health practices

Nerurkar believes the growing evidence of an association between ZIKV infection and the devastating brain damage in infants justifies a new practice in women’s health.

“We need to be more proactive in tracking pregnant women and testing for the ZIKV ahead of time (before birth),” he said. “It may be time for health care professionals to routinely caution newly pregnant mothers (or those planning to become pregnant) about the ZIKV, and offer pre-natal tests to detect for the presence of the virus.”

Ideally, Nerurkar said, families can plan for safe pregnancies by avoiding travel to areas of known ZIKV outbreaks. In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization have issued travel alerts about locations with confirmed, locally acquired Zika virus infections.

The UH researchers expressed their gratitude for the women who agreed to voluntarily donate blood and placenta samples to build the UH Biorepository archive. “This has been an indispensable resource in our research,” said Nerurkar.

Nerurkar leads a team of scientists at UH working to develop a vaccine for ZIKV infection as well as robust diagnostic assays to rapidly detect ZIKV and other mosquito-borne viral infections. After the award of a Zika emergency response grant this year from the National Institutes of Health, his team members are also working to understand how ZIKV infection in men makes them susceptible to transmit the virus to their sexual partners, even though the men may appear symptom-free.

Coast Guard Seeking Public’s Help Locating Owner of Kayak Found Off Big Island

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help identifying the owner of a two-person kayak found approximately two miles west of the Captain James Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island, Wednesday.

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help identifying the owner of a two-person kayak found approximately two miles west of the Captain James Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island, Wednesday. Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600. (Courtesy photo)

The kayak is orange and red with the words Tropic II on both sides. The paddles appear to be in the stored position.

Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600.

At 10:37 a.m., watchstanders at Sector Honolulu Command Center received a relayed report from the Department of Land and Natural Resources informing them that the operator of the Makana Lani had recovered the kayak while transiting two miles west of Kealakekua Bay.

Sector Honolulu watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast notice to mariners and launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to conduct a search of the area.

There are currently no reported signs of distress or missing persons in the area.

“The Coast Guard strongly encourages owners to label their gear with a name and contact information. Also, if the gear is lost, report it to the Coast Guard with a good description so that we can eliminate any unnecessary searches,” said Lt. Nicholas Spence, a search and rescue coordinator at the Sector Honolulu command center.

The Coast Guard offers free “If Found” decals to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft through the Operation Paddle Smart program.  The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

Restrictions for Use of Kailua-Kona Pier New Year’s Eve

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation is advising the people that the Kailua-Kona pier will be actively monitored from 4  p.m. December 31, 2016, until approximately 3  a.m. January 01, 2017.

Vehicle access will be restricted to commercial permittees and government vehicles that are actively conducting official business.  The pier will still be open.

As a reminder, the following activities are strictly prohibited on the pier:

  • Fireworks
  • Consumption of Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Sleeping
  • Use of Grills or Barbecues
  • Erecting of tents or canopies
  • Entering into the fenced area or climbing on any structures

Division of Conservation and Enforcement Officers will be present on the Kailua pier throughout the evening to enforce all applicable laws and ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable New Year’s Eve.

Lili‘uokalani Gardens in Hilo Featured on New U.S. Postage Stamp

The Postal Service announced more stamps to be issued in 2017 and one of them features Lili‘uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawai‘i.

“The new year is shaping up to be exceptional as the Postal Service continues to produce stamps that celebrate the people, events and cultural milestones that are unique to the history of our great nation,” said Mary-Anne Penner, U.S. Postal Service Director, Stamp Services. “We are very excited to showcase these miniature works of art to help continue telling America’s story as we add to the lineup of 2017 stamps announced earlier.”

Lili‘uokalani Gardens (Priority Mail)
This Priority Mail stamp is being issued to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Lili‘uokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawai‘i. Built on land donated by Queen Lili‘uokalani (1838–1917), the last Hawaiian monarch to govern the islands, the gardens were dedicated in 1917 and named in her honor. Hilo’s Lili‘uokalani Gardens are Japanese in style with influences of Hawaiian remains of lava flows, plantings of tropical trees and flowers, and a view of the Mauna Kea volcano — Hawai‘i’s highest point. The stamp art features one of the gardens’ most iconic structures, the red wooden shelter on a stone bridge spanning a portion of the pond. The bridge is surrounded by three stone lanterns and lush tropical plants. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with original art by Dan Cosgrove.

Hawaii Women’s March: January 21, Day After Inauguration

The day after the inauguration of the new President of the United States, Hawaii, other states and at least seven countries will hold marches in solidarity with the Women’s March at the Capitol in Washington D.C. These non-partisan events are focused on the protection of women’s rights, safety, health and families. In Hawaii, there will be five marches: on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and two on Hawaii Island (Hilo and Kona). Several thousand are expected at the Oahu March.

The marches on the Hawaiian Islands will be the closing events for those across the United States. Families, friends and allies interested in supporting human rights and social justice will take part.

WHO: All Hawaii residents and visitors are invited to participate
WHEN: January 21, 2017, 9:30 a.m. March start 10 a.m.
WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol (Ewa side), 415 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu. Rally to follow. Brown bag lunch. Download march route map.

“We are sending a message to the new administration on its first day in office,” said Amy Monk, Oahu Womens March co-chair. “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized and threatened many of us. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear. We will move forward in solidarity with all individuals, our partners, and our allies who are committed to empowering women and strengthening communities.”

Participating organizations: AF3IRM, Ceeds of Peace, Friends of Hawaii Commission on the Status of Women, Hawaii Friends of Civil Rights, Hawaii State AFL-CIO, LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, Pretty Peacock Productions, Pride@Work-Hawaii, and The AiKea Movement of Unite Here! Local 5.

Co-chairs of Oahu Women’s March: Della Au Belatti, Khara Jabola, Amy M onk, Essence Malaya Jane Kaiulani Sylvester, Morgen Trube, and Elizabeth “Annie” Valentin. Additional co-chairs to be announced.

Route for the march: Start on the Ewa grounds of the State Capitol along Richards Street, left onto South King Street, left up Alapai Street, left onto South Beretania Street, and ending in the Capitol Rotunda.

Donations for O‘ahu’s Women’s March can be made: https://womensmarchoahu.wordpress.com/support/

If your group or organization would like to participate in the march as a team, please contact co-chair Amy Monk at amonk20@yahoo.com.

If your group or organization would like to have a table or participate in the rally program, please contact co-chair Della Au Belatti at Honoluluwomensmarch@gmail.com.

For more information about how to support or participate in the Women’s Marches in Hawaii, please email Honoluluwomensmarch@gmail.com.

The Women’s March movement began when Teresa Shook of Maui took to Facebook the night after the election and began inviting friends to join her in a march on Washington. She awoke the next day to more than 40,000 people expressing interest in the event.

Hawaii Partnership Aims to Teach Kids Importance of Dental Hygiene

In an effort to provide oral health services for students who need it, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Hawaii Dental Association (HDA) are joining forces. The agencies have established a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to promote oral health by teaching students proper dental hygiene techniques and providing information about access to free dental health services.

Click to read memorandum

Dentists will be visiting HIDOE first and second grade classes on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island from Jan. 16-Feb. 28, 2017, which coincides with National Children’s Dental Health Month in February.

“When students do not get the health care they need we find that it affects their performance in school. This partnership is a huge step to provide services to many children who are not getting proper oral healthcare,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “As we work towards closing the achievement gap, we must look at the whole child and that includes their experiences outside of the classroom. We’re grateful to the Hawaii Dental Association for making this opportunity available for students.”

In October, the Hawaii Department of Health released “Hawaii Smiles,” a statewide report that showed a need for oral health improvement for Hawaii’s children. A few of the key findings included:

  • More than 7 out of 10 third graders (71 percent) are affected by tooth decay;
  • About 7 percent of Hawaii third grade children are in need of urgent dental care because of pain or infection;
  • Children from low-income families, as defined as those who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, have a disproportionate amount of tooth decay (about 31 percent of children eligible for National School Lunch Program have untreated tooth decay compared to 13 percent who are not eligible).

These efforts are also part of a national initiative from the American Dental Association to bring preventative education and dental services to underserved children, which include 92,000 economically disadvantaged public school students in Hawaii.

“The goal of this partnership is to educate children from a young age on the importance of proper dental care. We also want to raise awareness about services that provide free dental care so their families can encourage and foster these new habits,” shared Melissa Pavlicek, president, Hawaii Public Policy Advocates who coordinated the MOA on behalf of HDA.

In ensuring that students come to school healthy and ready to learn, Superintendent Matayoshi has made the health and wellbeing of public school students a priority. She has worked on other innovative partnerships and programs that range from proper nutrition to healthcare access. In 2014, HIDOE launched the “Hawaii Keiki” program with the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The program builds school based health services that screen for treatable health conditions; help prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems; and provide emergency care for illness or injury.