Operation Laysan Duck a Huge Success!

RETURN OF THE LAYSAN DUCK

The Hawaii Wildlife Center travels to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as part of a partnership to return critically endangered Laysan Ducks to Kure Atoll

Laysan DuckKapaau, HI – September 10, 2014: 

The Hawaii Wildlife Center was a part of a collaborative effort to translocate critically endangered Laysan Ducks from Midway Atoll to Kure Atoll at the the top of the Hawaiian Archipelago. This is a project that had been outlined in the Laysan Duck’s species recovery plan and has been implemented now in part due to the high number of mortalities recorded last year at Midway Atoll from avian botulism. Although once found throughout the Hawaiian island chain, Laysan Ducks faced rapidly declining numbers due to introduced predators and vegetation loss. As a result, there has been a significant amount of habitat work done on Kure, including the removal of pest plant species and predators, in order to prepare the atoll to welcome back these remarkable birds.

In late August and early September, Hawaii Wildlife Center founder, President and Center Director Linda Elliott joined representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kure Atoll Conservancy, and the U.S. Coast Guard to bring 28 Laysan Ducks to Kure Atoll from Midway Atoll. Ms. Elliott was a part of the team responsible for the care and husbandry of the ducks during this project. Responsibilities included health exams, nutritional support, hydration, and extra biocontrols to protect the rehabilitated habitat on Kure. Also supporting the duck care on Midway and Kure was Patagonia Hawaii, who generously donated gear to HWC for the project, as well as the Honolulu Zoo, who donated the mealworms fed to the ducks in care.

Linda with Laysan Duck

[Photo] Ms. Elliott prepares a Laysan Duck for release on Kure Atoll

The Laysan Duck is the rarest duck in the Northern Hemisphere and has the smallest geographic range of any duck species in the world. Laysan Duck numbers dropped to just 12 individuals on Laysan Island in 1912 due to predators, pest species and natural disasters. The population grew slowly on Laysan, and in 2004 and 2005 the Laysan Duck was brought back to Midway from Laysan. In 2008, the Midway population was hit hard with an outbreak of avian botulism and HWC’s Linda Elliott was brought in to handle the response. Midway has since used the protocols that Ms. Elliott helped develop to provide response to additional affected ducks on the island. This project to bring them back to Kure is another step in the population rebuilding process and provides additional protection from extinction. The Laysan Duck population now exists on three islands.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Papahanaumokuakea Press Release with additional information about the project:
http://www.papahanaumokuakea.gov/news/pdfs/pr_laysan_duck_translocation.pdf

Photos from the translocation project:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/sets/72157647398966195/

Videos from the translocation project:
http://www.dvidshub.net/search?q=Endangered+duck#.VBDk9WSwJPR

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