Wildlife Response

Wildlife Response

Professional and Rapid Relief to Wildlife Affected by Oil Spills, Disease Outbreaks and Natural Disasters

You may be surprised to know that the Hawai’i Wildlife Center is the first and only facility in the Pacific Islands equipped with the facilities and expertise to respond to wildlife affected by oil spills, disease outbreaks and natural disasters, though Hawai’i has more endangered species per square mile than anywhere else in the world. The coastal lands, reef ecosystems and waters of the Hawaiian archipelago provide habitat for over 14 million seabirds, several endangered wetland and remote island birds, Hawaiian monk seals, hawksbill and green sea turtles, more than a dozen species of whales and dolphins and more than 7,000 marine fish and invertebrate species.

Although Hawai’i has no offshore oil platforms, we are still at high risk of major oil spills from tankers and other vessel traffic, as more than 90 percent or our energy comes from oil. On land, oil transporting pipelines and storage tanks create additional risk.  Hawai’i is also at risk from natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis that can affect critical wildlife habitats and populations and from disease outbreaks that can impact critical populations of threatened native birds. The recent avian botulism outbreak on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge affecting over 150 critically endangered Laysan Ducks is just one example.

Based on current statewide reports from the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center is likely to receive several hundred native birds per year in need of care. In the event of natural or manmade disasters such as disease outbreaks or major oil or contaminant spills the number of birds in need will easily escalate by hundreds and possibly into the thousands.

Since Hawai‘i is an isolated island archipelago, the majority of its native terrestrial vertebrate life is avian. Of the more than 140 taxa of endemic birds known from the Hawaiian Islands, greater than half are extinct. Half of those that remain are threatened with extinction. There are more than fifteen million seabirds in the Hawaiian archipelago and the Island of Hawai‘i has the largest population of endemic and indigenous avian species in the State. HWC is a much-needed resource, assisting state and federal wildlife agencies in times of emergency and helping reverse the trends in declining avian populations.

To see our emergency response services, please visit our Services page.

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The Recovery Process:

Hard work, helping hands, and the redeeming joy of seeing recovered birds taking flight again.