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Hawaiian hawks are sporting a new accessory: GPS tags

Researchers Bri Bishop (right) and Kate Maley holding a tagged ʻio.
Researchers Bri Bishop (right) and Kate Maley holding a tagged ʻio.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is working to track ʻio, the native hawk, on Hawaiʻi Island.

Researchers are trapping and tagging ʻio in the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.

They first play a recording of an ʻio call to lure a live hawk into an area with a baited wire trap.

Once captured, the hawk receives a health check and a GPS tag. This tag allows researchers to track the bird’s movement in real time once it is released.

The project provides valuable data about the ʻio's range and behavior. It may also assist researchers in conservation efforts of the ʻalalā, or Hawaiian crow.

The ʻio preys on the ʻalalā, which has hampered the success of past introductions of the crow into the wild.

"Eventually, they are hoping to release another cohort of ʻalalā in the forest reserve," said Kate Maley, a member of the DLNR ʻio research team.

"By knowing where these [ʻio] are spending their time and how they're utilizing this landscape, we can hopefully find areas where there's maybe not as much of an ʻio presence," Maley said.

So far, researchers have captured and tagged seven hawks.

Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter. She is also the lead producer of HPR's "This Is Our Hawaiʻi" podcast. Contact her at sharrimanpote@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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