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Saving Hawaiian Crows

March 19, 2014

The Hawaiian crow is recovering from a devastating population crash, with help from us.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Saving Hawaii’s crows. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Hawaiian Crow. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Hawaiian Crow. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The Hawaiian crow, or ‘Alalä, is an important cultural symbol, and once played an vital role in the ecosystem of the islands. But the birds are now extinct in the wild. Fortuntely, captive breeding has been successful, and despite problems with inbreeding, the population has now grown to over 100 birds. Richard Switzer, an ecologist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, says it will be time to reintroduce young birds back into the wild very soon. But not without a little help from their friends.

RICHARD SWITZER (San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research):

We don’t really have the expectation that over the first 1-2 generations the wild birds will be wild. If they need support, well, let’s give them the  support.

HIRSHON:

That means providing supplemental food, and medical care if they get sick. Switzer says success will depend on protecting the birds from habitat destruction, introduced species, and disease. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.