Do Fence Me In: Protecting the Hawaiian Petrel
“Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote poet Robert Frost. While his poem was about the dubious nature of boundaries kept in check by surly New England yankees, the sentiment holds true in Hawaii, at least. Specifically, the state’s Big Island, where a new fence was just completed in the hopes of protecting an endangered bird.
Though the Hawaiian Petrel lives throughout the Hawaiian islands, its numbers are low, and fewer than 100 pairs breed in the Big Island’s Hawaiian Volcanoes Natural Park (also home to the Mauna Loa volcano). Part of the threat to the birds’ existence has been ravaging by feral cats, which eat both adults and chicks alike.
In hopes of protecting the Petrels without slaughtering cats, the National Park Service, American Bird Conservancy, and other groups spent a lot of time and money putting up a 5-mile-long, 6-foot-high fence meant to keep the cats out. That means about 600 acres will hopefully become cat-free, leaving the birds to breed and live in peace. Sounds something like a win-win.
(Hawaiian Petrel photo by Jim Denny/National Park Service)