Kauai lagoons at Kauai Lihue Airport

1,000 Bird Strikes Threaten Kauai Airport

An explosion in the Hawaii state bird population has caused alarm over their being ingested by transiting jet aircraft engines. There have been over 5,000 Nene sightings since 2008 and over 1,000 bird strikes reported in past years at Lihue. As you know, birds in the engines were what forced the dramatic 2009 US Airways water landing on the Hudson River.

The USDA “dispersed nene geese 4,625 times from the Lihue Airport. — Gov. Abercrombie”

I took a drive out to Kauai Lagoons, adjacent to the airport, late yesterday to check on the Nenes, the royal birds nearly extinct in the mid 1900’s. At least at the time of my visit, there was not a Nene in sight anywhere on the 59 acre Kauai Lagoons wetlands. Not even at the south end of the airport, where 400 of them are reported to be nesting alongside the runway.

Chasing Nenes

The state is said to be have in place a 12+ hour a day patrol for the purpose of scaring the Nene population away from approaching and departing aircraft. The cost of that effort so far this year has been nearly half a million dollars. I’d love to have gotten a photo of that, but there was no patrol in sight either.

Relocation Plans Developing

The Nene geese, believed to have arrived in Hawaii about 500,000 years ago and descendant from the Canada goose, are being moved to other island locations. About 10 have been flown to Maui (and you know how expensive inter-island airfare is). Apparently Nenes are not altogether easy to round up. Further complicating the situation is the fact that they cannot be relocated on Kauai because they simply return to Kauai Lagoons. Instead they may be relocated to other islands, although their predators, Mongooses, may prove to be a problem. There is no mongoose population on Kauai.


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