by Adrien Pesque, DVM
Pacific Rim Conservation, a nonprofit organization, has the mission of maintaining and restoring native bird diversity, populations, and ecosystems in Hawaii and the Pacific Region. In an effort to combat the threats to seabird populations including climate change and non-native predators (feral cats, pigs, rats, etc), chicks are translocated to predator proof fenced refuges on the main Hawaiian islands where they will fledge and return to breed. On Oahu, black-footed albatross, Bonin petrel, and Tristram’s storm-petrel chicks were translocated from Midway and Tern Island to James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. On Kauai, endangered Hawaiian petrels and Newell’s shearwater face similar threats of habitat degradation and non-native predators, but also collisions with power lines and structures exacerbated by light attraction. Individuals of these two species were translocated from the Kauai mountaintops to a predator proof fenced area within the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. These new breeding colonies will provide a safe haven for new generations to come.
Dr. Adrien Pesqué, the staff wildlife veterinarian, joined the team this year and created a mobile veterinary clinic to oversee the health of the chicks. Clinical cases included avian pox lesions, osteomyelitis of the beak, a non-healing corneal ulcer, and aspiration pneumonia secondary to gastric foreign bodies. Plastics and fishing material in the GI tract were present in our chicks and continue to cause life threatening problems for ocean wildlife.
Dr. Suzanne Pluskat, the staff wildlife veterinarian stationed on Midway Atoll, worked with partners to ensure the safety of the endangered Laysan duck for the anticipated rodent eradication on the island. Laysan duck cases involved pododermatitis, complicated corneal ulcers, femoral fracture repair and physical therapy. During the “construction season” (July-September when there are no albatross), many white tern chicks and the first ever black noddy chick were salvaged and fledged successfully.
Pacific Rim Conservation partners with multiple government and non-profit groups to make this work possible. To learn more about these translocations and other research projects, please visit www.pacificrimconservation.org.