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    US Coast Guard helps translocate endangered Laysan ducks

    US Coast Guard helps translocate endangered Laysan duck

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal | Crew members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui and wildlife preservation experts...... read more read more

    KURE ATOLL, HI, UNITED STATES

    09.03.2014

    Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal 

    DMA Pacific - Hawaii Media Bureau   

    KURE ATOLL, Hawaii -- The U.S. Coast Guard partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Washington State, The Wildlife Center and the State of Hawaii to translocate 28 endangered Laysan ducks to Kure Atoll Sept. 3.

    John Klavitter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System invasive species coordinator, explained how Laysan ducks went from a flourishing species to becoming endangered.

    "This particular duck is found only in the Hawaiian Islands," Klavitter said. "They were spread throughout the archipelago from the Big Island of Hawaii all the way to Kuree Atoll at one time. Due to humans who introduced rats and shipwrecked sailors who took the birds directly, the population was restricted all the way down to only Laysan Island."

    Dr. Michelle Reynolds, U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center wildlife researcher, explained how experts have used data to determine the cause of the dwindling population of the Laysan duck.

    "Bone records revealed that as soon as rats were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands the Laysan ducks were gone," Dr. Reynolds said. "That's the primary culprit, and they've disappeared from every island where the rats were introduced. Layson is so isolated. Rats were never introduced there and that's why we think they were left only on Laysan Island."

    The translocation of the ducks to Kure Atoll marked the third location that experts in the field hope will serve as a home for Laysan ducks.

    "There's a recovery plan written to recover the species, so we followed the recovery plan and that called for establishing another safety net population," Klavitter said. "There is a population on Laysan and now there's a population on Midway. We wanted a third population and that's Kure Atoll."

    U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Steven Ramassini, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui commanding officer, said that building partnerships is the best way to execute a mission of this magnitude.

    "Partnership is really the only way that we can achieve these types of missions that have a positive impact on all of our ecosystems, especially the sensitive ecosytems associated with the Atolls in the northwest Hawaiian Island chain," Ramassini said.

    The translocation of the endangered species also supports the U.S. Coast Guard's overall mission.

    "This is something that we also do," Ramassini said. "Living marine resources, restoration of the ecosystem, it all supports and all serves to support the sustainment of our ecosystem and the rebuilding of it, which supports our fishing industry which in turn supports the strong economy of not only the main Hawaiian Island chain but also the strong economy of the Pacific area."

    Coast Guardsmen helped transport the Laysan ducks to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kukui and translocated them to Kure Atoll.

    "The opportunity that we had in addition to providing additional manpower was to transport the Laysan ducks," Ramassini said. "Without us being there and providing the transport this would be a mission that would have had to wait for an unknown amount of time."

    Reynolds explained that in order for the ducks to survive once on the island, they need four things including; dense vegetated cover, lots of arthropods to eat, freshwater and no rats.

    "Kure got rid of its rats, they restored the habitat, they built some freshwater sources, and there are lots of arthropods there, so we think it will be a great place for the Laysan ducks," Reynolds said. "We're hopeful that it will buy some time for the species."

    Three Coast Guardsmen were given the opportunity to help release the ducks at their new home upon arrival to the island.

    "It certainly is one of the most memorable experiences i've had being in the service," said U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Dahnyoung McGarry, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kakui deck watch officer. "Not many people get to actually physically touch these ducks and to place them on the ground and see them jump into the pond felt great. It was surreal being on that island and handling those ducks."

    The wildlife experts wanted to give back to the Coast Guard by allowing them to help release the endangered animal because the mission wouldn't have been a success without them.

    "This wouldn't have happened without the Coast Guard," Reynolds said. "Having the Coast Guard provide the transportation for both the scientists and the ducks was mission critical. We were waiting for an opportunity to be able to move the ducks to Kure and the Coast Guard provided that opportunity. It wouldn't have happened without them."

    The translocation of the 28 Layson Ducks to Kure Atoll is just one step in an ongoing effort to downlist the species from being endangered. Wildlife experts hope to reintroduce the ducks to other islands in the future.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.03.2014
    Date Posted: 09.09.2014 18:11
    Story ID: 141619
    Location: KURE ATOLL, HI, US

    Web Views: 464
    Downloads: 0

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