The U.S.’s Longest Cat-Proof Fence Helps to Keep Birds Safe

Amer. Bird Conserv. via Twitter
Amer. Bird Conserv. via Twitter

Feral cats are a problem all over the United States, but they’re particularly troublesome in Hawaii. An endangered bird called the Hawaiian petrel is further threatened by feral cats, and the bird population was in need of protection. Because the birds nest in volcanic rock, they’re easy target for local cats.

In an attempt to control the feral cat population, Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources introduced a bill which would forbid people from feeding feral cats. The bill was quickly struck down.

Eliminating the feral cat population is an impractical option for protecting the birds. Not only would it be incredibly difficult, but it would take up large amounts of resources and would take significant time.

So, six organizations partnered to build a massive predator fence to keep the cats and the birds separated. The fence was a cumulative effort of the National Park Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Bird Conservancy, the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association, and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii. The six-foot high fence now protects 600 acres of the petrel’s nesting grounds, so the birds can reproduce without the threat previously posed by the feral cats.

While it’s unknown just how effective this fence may be, hopes are that it will result in a rise in the petrel’s population numbers.

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