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Mongoose captured on Kauai after hitching ride with shipment of rice

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A young mongoose that hitchhiked to Kauai aboard an Aloha Air Cargo shipment from Oahu was captured at Lihue Airport on Tuesday.

The mongoose was first spotted by cargo employees after scurrying from a shipment of bread at Aloha Air Cargo to an adjacent Hawaiian Airlines cargo area. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture was notified at approximately 5:45 a.m.

It took Aloha Air Cargo employees and customers, Hawaiian Airlines Cargo employees, a field crew of the Kauai Invasive Species Committee and agriculture department personnel to capture the mongoose at 8:15 a.m.

Collaboration really made the capture successful, said Rachel Smith, outreach specialist of the Kauai Invasive Species Committee. “If we didn’t have anyone report it, we wouldn’t have known about it.”

The animal, determined to be a juvenile, was euthanized in accordance with standards established by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

It was the first live mongoose captured on Kauai since 2012, when one was found at Young Brothers’ port at Nawiliwili Harbor and the another at Marriot’s Kauai Lagoons resort in Lihue.

The Kauai Invasive Species Committee said both Kauai and Lanai are the only islands without known breeding mongoose populations, which pose a threat to native and endangered ground nesting birds.

The weasel-like mongoose is native to India — introduced to Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and Oahu in 1883 by the sugar industry to control rats in sugarcane fields. But the mongoose, instead, preyed on turtle eggs and birds, and its population has proliferated because there are no natural predators for it in Hawaii.

Smith said the invasive species committee is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office on a comprehensive mongoose detection program. The effort is slated to begin by the end of the year to determine whether Kauai a breeding mongoose population has established itself on the island.

“Tracking tunnel” equipment — small plastic rectangular tubes with ink pads inside — will be placed on roads around the island to detect the paw prints of any of the critters.

Mongoose sightings on Kauai should be reported to the agriculture department’s Plant Quarantine office at 241-7135 or the state’s toll-free pest hotline at 643-PEST(7378).