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Hawaii Hunters & Researchers Count Game Bird Populations Before Season Opens


Submitted by:  Backcountry Press Outdoor News 
Posted on: 10/22/18
News # -11926

Disclaimer:  The views expressed on this site are that of the authors and not necessarily that of TBC Press
At first light, each team begins traversing the first in their series of assigned transects. Along with a hunting dog, the teams walk straight lines and as the dog’s flush birds out of the tall grass or from underneath thick vegetation, the species of bird, its size, its sex and GPS location is recorded.

He said from a research stand-point doing game bird surveys in this manner is a good design and will give managers a good sense of populations and health trends over time as surveys are repeated over several years. The plan is to do this twice a year on Maunakea and then to introduce this sampling method in game bird hunting areas across the state. 

Larsen’s impressions of game bird status on Maunakea included, “It’s a wonderful resource here. Lots of diversity of species. We’ve seen in the last couple of days that Don and I have done surveys everything from turkeys, to Erckel’s francolins, to California quail and there are other species that other teams have seen that we haven’t. Lots of diversity and pretty good densities relative to what I’ve experienced in the western part of the mainland.”

The next round of game bird surveys on Maunakea will happen after hunting season in February or March of next year. The survey design was created in cooperation with Dr. Javier Cotin and other researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

Dr. Shaya Honarvar, the Game Program Coordinator for DLNR/DOFAW concluded, “These datasets will help us tell a cohesive story about our game bird populations and how they’re doing. Involving the hunters, who actually use these resources, is a win-win, as they know the birds and the terrain and this gives them a real voice in how these lands are managed for hunting as recreation and for subsistence living.”

Stock Image courtesy of HI DLNR

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This year with the help of hunters, this is the first time we’ve been able to put people into the field, where the hunting actually happens to get a clearer and better picture of the health of the game bird ecosystem.”

Hawaii Game Birds
  • Cattle egret (most of the larger islands)
  • Wild turkey (Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Niihau)
  • California quail.
  • Gambel's quail (Lanai and Kahoolawe)
  • Chukar (all main islands from Kauai eastward, except Oahu)
  • Black francolin (Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, and Molokai)

Two weeks before the hunting season for game birds opens in Hawai‘i, hunters, researchers and staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) traipsed across the rugged terrain on Maunakea’s north slopes to gain a better understanding of game bird density, variety and populations.

They gather above the Kilohana Hunter Check-in Station at 4:45 each morning to team up, check their equipment, like GPS devices, get their dogs ready to go and to receive their “transects” assignments. Kanalu Sproat, a DOFAW wildlife biologist on the Big Island said, 

“We’ve done game bird counts in the past by just driving the roads looking for birds. 
Hawaii Hunters & Researchers Count Game Bird Populations Before Season Opens