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State briefs for May 11

Kealoha to visit family before heading to prison

HONOLULU — A U.S. judge is allowing former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha to meet with family and friends in Washington state before he begins serving a seven-year prison sentence in Oregon.

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U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright on Monday approved Kealoha’s travel request. Kealoha will travel to the Seattle area on May 29 and then drive to the federal correctional facility in Sheridan, Ore., where he will begin his sentence on June 1, said his attorney Rustam Barbee.

In March, Seabright delayed Kealoha’s surrender date to allow him time to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Kealoha and his now-estranged wife, Katherine, a former high-ranking Honolulu prosecutor, were sentenced in November for using his position as chief to frame a relative for a crime he didn’t commit in Hawaii’s biggest corruption case.

Kealoha filed for divorce after the two were convicted. He will go forward with finalizing the divorce while incarcerated, Barbee said.

Scientists introduce endangered insect on Oahu

HONOLULU — Scientists started to introduce native damselflies into the wild on Oahu’s North Shore to help repopulate the insect and potentially save the species from extinction.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has been releasing orange-black Hawaiian damselflies to an area near Dillingham Air Field.

Department officials said in a statement that the only other wild population of the insects is in Tripler Army Medical Center, but that the location is not ideal for population growth.

Kapua Kawelo, manager for the U.S. Army’s Natural Resources Program, said the DLNR invertebrate program partnered with the Army to raise the endangered species in a breeding facility for introduction to the wild.

Crews have been releasing up to 120 damselflies every week for nearly a year and scientists said they are starting to see promising results. William Haines, a researcher with the invertebrate program, said last year there were only 100 damselflies and now there are about 4,000.

Haines added that they were able to document the progress because all the released damselflies have a small number marked on their wings.

Hawaiian damselflies are threatened by mosquito fish, which were introduced in the early 1900s to control mosquitoes but are now causing damselfly populations to decline. The insects are found in small populations on Oahu, the Big Island, Maui and Molokai. The species is extinct on Lanai.

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Researchers have said that damselflies can help control mosquito and fly populations.

“They are an important part of the Hawaiian ecosystem. We used to have about 25 species of Hawaiian damselflies that are all endemic, so they’re only found in Hawaii,” Haines said. “They’re important predators of other insects.”

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