Endangered Hawaiian Petrel are now enjoying a humanely guarded nesting site where they are protected from predators — including feral cats — thanks to the completion of a 8,200-foot cat-proof fence enclosing 93 acres on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.

The Hawaiian Petrel — also called ‘ua’u — is a unique seabird that makes an “oo-A-oo” song that has been compared to a dog’s bark, according to National Park Hawaii. These endangered birds build underground burrows in the spring; they enter and leave their nests when it’s dark — which is when cats often hunt.

In 2021, the endangered birds were found on Mauna Kea for the first time since 1954, as reported by Honolulu’s KHON.

‘Ua’u reproduce slowly; they mate for life and lay a single egg in the spring which both parents care for in their underground burrows.

Being so close to the ground makes the endangered birds vulnerable to predators.

After rediscovering the birds on Mauna Kea, area government agencies and conservancy groups quickly created a plan, designing the fencing system to create a protected nesting site where the endangered sea birds would be safe without harming the area’s feral cat population.

The new fence, which the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) began installing in 2022, is six-feet high, with another three-foot extension designed to prevent cats and other predators from climbing over it and killing the endangered birds. A two-foot fence skirt is also buried beneath the ground to prevent predators from digging under the fence, according to a DHHL statement.

Left: An ‘Ua’u at Night (Courtesy of University of Hawaii); Right: The Fence Project (Courtesy of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands)

Lady Freethinker applauds the DHHL for crafting a humane solution to protect the endangered birds without harming cats or other animals.