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PMRF Honored as Contributing Partner in 2021 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award

28 September 2023

From MC2 Bodie Estep

PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Hawaii - One program, designed to protect albatross, earned the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services-Hawaii, partnered with PMRF, the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award. 

From Hawaiian monk seals, to green sea turtles, to shearwaters, Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) has a variety of programs to help protect wildlife and the natural environment. Many of those programs extend beyond PMRF, with participants all across the island of Kauai. One of those programs, designed to protect albatross, earned the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services-Hawaii, partnered with PMRF, the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award. 


This award is given by the Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds in recognition of projects or actions that focus on migratory bird conservation. The winners were announced in 2021, however, receiving the physical award had to be postponed due to the covid pandemic. 

Navy Capt. Brett Stevenson, Commanding Officer of PMRF, accepted the award on behalf of PMRF in a ceremony in Oahu in August, in partnership with the primary recipient, USDA-APHIS. 


“Being honored as a contributing partner is a great way to acknowledge all of the things that we do on this installation as part of our routine operations to protect the wildlife that share the Mana Plain with us,” said Stevenson. “Particular thanks to our environmental team and our USDA partners here on Kauai whose effort led to this award.” 


The award recognizes the collaborative efforts to research and safely manage the breeding Laysan albatross (Moli) population at PMRF through translocation from PMRF to establish nesting colonies in more suitable habitats on Kauai and Oahu since 2009, and more recently for trained wildlife hazing dogs to be utilized in proximity to airports on Kauai to safely deter breeding Hawaiian goose (nene) populations from establishing nests within airfield operating areas.  


Other project partners and co-recipients include: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Geological Survey, Bird Banding Laboratory; U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Navy; Federal Aviation Administration; Hawaii Department of Transportation; Lihue Airport; Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife; and non-governmental organizations including the Hokuala Resort, Kauai Albatross Network, Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Pacific Rim Conservation, and private consulting firms. 


Albatross return to where they were born to lay eggs, so it is important to relocate eggs and deter adults from nesting on the installation, especially around the airfield. Bird strikes are dangerous for both air crew and the animals. This effort aims to mitigate potential risk not only for birds, but for personnel, aircraft and mission capability. These birds can live to be over 70 years old, and there are a number of albatross that are continuing to return to PMRF.  


Biologists at PMRF placed transmitters on albatross, allowing PMRF to track the birds and see how many relocated albatross were returning to base. The biologists were also able to analyze which season is best for relocation, providing for greater success in moving the birds to a safer permanent residence. Albatross at PMRF or elsewhere on Kauai are marked with bands so they can be identified.  


“This award that our USDA partners received for their work on Kauai with nene hazing dogs and tracking Laysan albatross adults translocated from PMRF is a well-deserved acknowledgment of the many years of collaboration that have gone into finding effective solutions to protect both aircraft and native species, and demonstrates that such solutions are possible across species and environments,” said Brooke McFarland, Natural Resources Manager at PMRF. “We are grateful to USDA for conducting the research that will make our program here more effective, and are proud of PMRF’s part in making this study possible.” 


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