A live mongoose that likely arrived on Kaua‘i as a stowaway was captured at Lihu‘e Airport Wednesday morning, according to the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee.
Craig Kaneshige, Clyde Ragasa and Eric-John Garcia of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, along with KISC field crew, captured a live juvenile mongoose in the air cargo bay of Lihu‘e Airport at 8:15 a.m. Oct. 11.
“The collaborated effort of HDOA, KISC, and the Kaua‘i community made this a successful rapid response! The mongoose was caught less than 3 hours after it was first reported to HDOA,” KISC Outreach and Program Coordinator Tiffani Keanini said in a press release.
The capture was an effort between Aloha Air Cargo employees and customers, Hawaiian Air Cargo employees, HDOA and KISC, according o KISC.
Aloha Air Cargo customers spotted the mongoose escape a shipment and quickly notified air cargo personnel. Shawn Baliaris, Aloha Air Cargo employee, and Leina, Hawaiian Airlines employee called in the report to HDOA around 5:45 a.m.
Aloha Air Cargo and Hawaiian Air Cargo employees monitored the mongoose orientation while waiting for responding agencies to arrive.
KISC Field Crew and HDOA acted quickly, setting a trap line around the air cargo facilities. Effective mongoose reporting outreach, and strong community partnerships led to the rapid response and successful capture.
KISC officials said it is unlikely this mongoose is from a breeding Kaua‘i population, because it was witnessed exiting a recent cargo shipment. The only other live mongoose captures on Kaua‘i were in 2012 in the Young Brothers port in Nawiliwili Harbor and on the grounds of the Kaua‘i Marriot Resort and Beach Club near the airport.
KISC said while they and HDOA are pleased with the rapid response and quick capture of the mongoose, the event demonstrates the need for a stringent and comprehensive state biological security plan, which would initiate higher security at exit and entry ports on all the islands.
Recently, HDOA released a draft Hawai‘i Interagency Biosecurity Plan that is currently open for public comment. Proper biosecurity regulations can stop the introduction and spread of invasive plants, insects, animals and pathogens, according to KISC.
Mongoose are a threat to native and endangered ground nesting birds. Kaua‘i and Lanai are the only islands without known breeding mongoose populations. Therefore, KISC says preventing mongoose from becoming established would help to protect the limited number of endemic seabird, waterbird and forest bird populations, some of which are only found on Kaua‘i.
The United States Department of Agriculture and HDOA will continue to monitor at Kaua‘i ports. KISC, in partnership with USFWS — Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, will begin a comprehensive mongoose detection program by the end of the year to gain a better understanding of what Kaua‘i’s status may be regarding possible breeding mongoose populations.
Mongoose can hitchhike in cargo or shipments coming in by plane or boat, and can be found up to 2 km from the detection site. Report mongoose sightings to HDOA at 643-PEST or KISC at 821-1490.