Maunakea fence to protect wildlife from cats

Image credit DHHL — Crews stand in front of a completed section of a cat-proof fence.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands installed a fence Friday on Maunakea to protect an endangered native bird from feral cats.

The ‘ua‘u, or Hawaiian petrel, is a highly endangered species of bird that is primarily found on Maui but was rediscovered on Maunakea in 2021 for the first time in nearly 70 years.


Since that discovery, DHHL has increased efforts to protect the birds from local threats — feral cats in particular. Beginning in January 2022, the department began work on an 8,200-foot cat-proof fence surrounding 93 acres of DHHL land near Pu‘u Kahinahina on Maunakea’s eastern flank.

The fence is 6 feet tall but includes a 3-foot extension at the top to prevent cats from climbing over it, and a 2-foot buried skirt to prevent them from digging under it.

The enclosure was completed March 22, and a ceremony was held to celebrate its completion in partnership with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the University of Hawaii at Hilo and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

“‘Ua‘u were once an abundant cultural resource of Maunakea and an important part of the ecosystem,” said Kuali‘i Camara, DHHL ‘Aina Mauna Resource Manager, in a statement. “Therefore, the purpose of our ceremony is to call the ‘ua‘u home where they will be protected.”

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