UPDATE 4/14/16 While we have not seen the results of the DLNR’s necropsy of the ducks, all indications are the their deaths are are result more of neglect than depravity. In seems poor water quality of the developed wetlands has deteriorated mostly due to an nearly unchecked proliferation on invasive weeds “choking “ the still waters . Unlike a natural wetlands, these waters do not flow.
We are unable to determine what agency is responsible for maintaining it. The site sign lists two government entities, HTA and Maui County, and it seems the State (DLNR) owns the land, but none appear to maintain it. Non- profit Malama Maui Nui (formerly Community Work Day) does their best with occasional volunteer “work day” clean outs, as we had mention in prior post with recent Makawao Cub Scout effort, but without increased government funding, they can not keep pace, and we see the result.
Now it appears that some residents have taken up the effort at their own expense using a two pronged effort of clearing out the invasive growth, while aerating the still waters to reverse the continuing deaths of the ducks. KCA commends this community effort at a time when government seems unable to do so.
UPDATE 4/12/16 As reported in this morning’s Maui News (4 days after our initial report) the State’s DLNR, who was alerted by a KCA director last week, has stated the botulism, a paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin, is the suspected cause. While it remains a sad event regardless of the cause, we view it more favorably than a purposefully performed action of someone in our area. The entire article is shown at the end of this information post.
4/8/16–Just a few weeks ago (3/25) we offered an update on that little waterfowl sanctuary in central Kihei, La’ie Wetlands Restoration, SEE: https://gokihei.org/environment/organizing-good-organizations-to-do-good-in-kihei-friday-morning.
We often observe families stopped there to allow the keiki to see the ducks (and on occasion nene geese). We too sometimes stop just to watch nature in action in this little oasis of the urban area, where we can turn our backs on the hectic pace of SKR, take a deep breath end enjoy the waterfowl in action for a brief respite.
Now we have reports that this sanctuary is violated this week by someone apparently killing the ducks, and leaving the carcasses there, as an statement of their depravity. Authorities have been notified, but something of this affront to our community needs community action. Please be vigilant when you are in this area, report this illegal action to MPD, (not the Humane Society, as they advise not their kuleana) use your devices to verify any violations with pix or video. Remember that those who abuse animals will often degrade to abusing humans.
Botulism suspected in deaths of 8 ducks in Kihei
April 12, 2016
Eight non-native mallard ducks from the La’ie wetlands near St. Theresa Church in Kihei have died since Friday and botulism is suspected, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Monday.
On Friday, Maui Division of Forestry and Wildlife officials picked up four dead ducks around the waterway, said DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward. Responding to a call Monday of more dead ducks, wildlife officials picked up one dead and three sick mallards, all of which died during transport..
“All signs and symptoms observed in the sick birds appear to indicate botulism,” said Ward.
Charlene Schulenburg said in an email Monday that area residents picked up 16 dead ducks in a five-day period recently
Area residents had been concerned that the ducks were poisoned or stoned. Schulenburg said that the ducks are strong creatures.
“We’ve lived here over five years and never even had one dead duck,” Schulenburg said. “They’re pretty hardy animals.”
There was an outbreak of botulism at Kanaha Pond in 2012 that killed scores of endangered birds, including stilts, coots and Hawaiian ducks. Experts said then that it was important to remove the dead birds to “break the chain reaction” of transmission of the disease through the food chain. Maggots from the inflected birds can provide a high dose of the paralytic toxin from the disease when consumed.
State wildlife officials have notified federal managers at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge in north Kihei and Kanaha Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului, said Ward. Residents, including Schulenburg, and wildlife staff will continue to search for dead birds.
No native, threatened or endangered species have been affected, but two stilts have been seen in the wetlands, Ward said. Though no nene have been observed recently in the wetlands, the endangered Hawaiian goose has been seen at La’ie.
The toxin in the botulism bacteria has a paralytic effect, blocking nerve endings. Birds die from respiratory arrest or are unable to hold up their necks, sometimes referred to as “limberneck,” and drown in the water.
Botulism is a natural toxin produced by a bacteria commonly found in soil. The avian disease – which is the same bacteria but a different strain as the human form associated with improperly canned food – thrives in low- or no-oxygen water conditions. The disease is transmitted through the food system to birds.
The 1.5 acre La’ie wetland is makai of South Kihei Road near Lipoa Street, according to Malama Maui Nui, which is working to restore the county-owned site. The wetland consists of a waterway and ponds, wetlands and sand dunes.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.