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Hawaiian crow released last year found dead on Big Island

December 20, 2018

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — An endangered Hawaiian crow was found dead on the Big Island after it had been released from captivity last year.

The male alala was found with severe wounds on its body on Dec. 6, possibly a victim of predation, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Wednesday.

The bird named Maka’ala was one of 11 alala released from captivity in 2017 as part of an effort to reintroduce the species to the wild.

The San Diego Zoo’s Global Disease Investigations Team conducted a preliminary necropsy, finding the wounds were likely caused by a “predatory attack followed by scavenging,” the Alala Project said in a statement.

The Alala Project works to restore the crow population. It’s a collaboration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the San Diego Zoo.

“It is possible that there will not be a conclusion as to the species responsible for this incident,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement. “However, threats to ‘Alala include introduced mammals like feral cats and mongoose, natural predators such as the ‘Io, and intra-group conflict with other released ’Alala.”

The birds are monitored by the radio transmitters attached to them. The death appears to be the project’s first since December 2016, when three of the five birds that were part of the first release were found dead. They had been in the Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve for only a few weeks.

The Alala Project has released 10 of the birds into the wild this year. The crows were previously extinct in the wild since 2002.

“Recovering the ‘alala in the wild will take many years and the ‘Alala Project remains committed to a future where ’alala fly freely among the forests of Hawaii Island,” the statement read.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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