OHE January 26, 2000 (pia)

Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 16:46:59 -1000
From: DaKine900@aol.com (Tom Cress)
Subject: Pia Valley and Rodent Control

Today I ventured off into Pia Valley to help control the rat population. I was supposed to meet the group at am. I didn't show until 9:15, thanks to the traffic. The weather wasn't very nice today, but I figured they went ahead anyway. I've never been to this valley before so even if I didn't meet the group, I should still go check it out. The trail starts at the end of Anolani Street, off of East Halemaumau via Kalanianaole. Basically Niu Valley area. The first part follows a Board of Water Supply road to a water tank and the trail is directly on the right side of the fence. It follows into some tall, and WET, California grass and then eventually picks up the trail after a small descent. I managed to catch up somehow after about half an hour.

When I finally met up with them, they were observing the 'Elepaio, a native bird that is suffering from a declining population. The group included: Dr. Eric VanderWerf, Stewart Ball, Bill Warden, Dave Faucett and me. The project was headed by Eric and we were the sherpas for today's jaunt. We carried a few buckets of Rodenticide, plastic boxes in which to place the Rodenticide and rat snare traps. The reason behind this rodent patrol is, the 'Elepaio is slowly withering away. Eric provided tons of information along the hike as to why the bird is struggling to survive. There are two main factors affecting its existence. One is disease. He told me that eventually they would build an immunity, much like people do, but the rats are the main concern now. The rats attack the nests and devour the eggs and chicks, leaving only a handful each year to help build an immunity. Hopefully with a little help, they can continue to enjoy living on the islands. The total population is estimated to be around 1500, but drops every year. I think Eric said he trapped over 150 rats last year and estimates that between 300 - 500 were killed off by the rodenticide. This apparently gives the birds a 10 percent increase in survivability.

We visited 15 'Elepaio territories today and placed traps and bait at each. Each territory is approximately 4 acres, or however far the male protects. Dave gave us some useful information about the botany along the way. He pointed out many specimens of native vegetation. We encountered White Hibiscus, Mango, Kukui, Koa, Christmas Berry, Norfolk Pine and tons of others I forgot to write down. Bill was a good sport despite the weather. IM sure he really wanted to get some good views of the 'Elepaio. He also provided some quick wit humor along the way. Stewart gave me some answers to questions about hikes I've been wanting to try. I was actually surprised to see him there! He gave me suggestions on how to get to Hawaii Loa ridge from where we were. Might try that sometime, sounds interesting.

The hike itself would have been very pleasant, but the deluge of rain made it wet, for lack of a better word. It meanders through the valley and crosses Pia stream a few times. There were some narrow spots that a fall from could lead to injury, but everyone made it out all limbs intact. With enough rain, you would encounter a few small waterfalls and nice swimming holes. A classic gulch hike. Maybe I'll visit it again and see how the 'Elepaio are doing. Happy Hiking!


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