Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The current population of the Hawaiian crow, also known as the 'alala, numbers only 13 in the wild and 11 in captivity. The wild birds occupy habitat on private ranchland on the island of Hawaii; the captive birds are held at the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife's Olinda Endangered Species Propagation Facility on the island of Maui. Introduced mammalian species (e.g., rats, mongooses, and feral cats) prey on crow eggs and young, and nonnative ungulates (e.g., pigs and cattle) degrade the crow's habitat. Introduced diseases, inbreeding, natural catastrophes, and habitat changes due to introduced plants constitute other potential threats to this extremely small population.
The private ranchland where the wild population exists was inaccessible to Fish and Wildlife Service biologists until 1992 when the Service was permitted to begin an intensive field study of the species. Research and recovery efforts resulted in documentation of factors limiting the species' survival. Also in 1992, the Service established a 5-year plan for recovery; cultivated a positive relationship with the ranch owners, which is critical to recovery implementation; contracted with the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, for an evaluation of the recovery program; documented and monitored a fledgling crow in the wild; established guidelines for a recovery team; and provided funding and technical assistance to the Olinda facility.
Active management and manipulation of the wild population, including collection of first-clutch eggs, incubation of the eggs near the wild population, introduction of a portion of the resulting young into the captive flock at the Olinda facility, and hacking of the remaining young into the wild, is needed. Other necessary recovery activities include predator control, disease studies, nutrition studies, and habitat enhancement.
In both FY 1991 and FY 1992, $80,000 were provided for captive propagation and $80,000 for facility construction at the Olinda facility, which includes facilities for other Hawaiian forest birds.
Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife: This State agency operates and maintains the captive breeding facility on Maui. It also reviews and provides technical assistance to Service recovery efforts and has two staff members serving on the 'Alala Recovery Team.
Plan approved 10/28/82.