From Wildlife Extra:
Guam Rail, Extinct In The Wild For 22 Years, To Be Reintroduced To Guam
A draft Safe Harbour Agreement that proposes to establish a breeding population of the endangered ko’ko’ or Guam rail on Cocos has been published.
Cocos Island Resort and the Guam Department of Agriculture have applied a permit to re-introduce the bird, which is extinct in the wild, to 83.1 acres of Cocos Island partly owned by Cocos Island Resort, and the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation.
Actions required to ensure the Guam rail reintroduction is a success.
* Eradicating rats and mice and control of the monitor lizard population prior to release of Guam rail;
* Reducing the likelihood of reintroduction of rats, mice, and the introduction of the brown treesnake;
* Developing and implementing a forest enhancement plan to reduce invasive plant species and increase native plant species;
* Releasing Guam rails and monitoring survivorship, breeding behaviour, habitat preference, and nesting success; and
* Creating educational materials to promote the understanding and appreciation of wildlife recovery and invasive species issues for Cocos Island staff and visitors.
‘Thanks to the Cocos Island Resort and its cooperators in local and federal governments, wild ko’ko’ may once again be seen on Guam,’ said Patrick Leonard, field supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. ‘Voluntary cooperative conservation efforts with the private sector strengthen the efforts of government agencies and help ensure protection of valuable habitat and the recovery of endangered species.’
The ko’ko’ was last observed in the wild on Northern Guam in the mid-1980s.
Descriptiom of the Ko’ko’
The ko’ko’ is a flightless, medium-sized rail, endemic to the island of Guam and is considered one of the most critically endangered rails in the world. The head and back are brown with a grey eye stripe and throat. The breast is dark black with white barring, and the legs and beak are dark brown. Males are significantly larger than females. It is an omnivorous feeder but appears to prefer animal over vegetable food. It is known to eat gastropods, skinks, geckos, insects, and carrion as well as seeds and palm leaves.
Last wild birds taken into captivity in 1985
The last remaining wild ko’ko’ were collected from the forest on Andersen Air Force Base in 1985. One captive population is located in Mangilao, Guam, and others are spread throughout 17 participating zoos on the mainland U.S. The ko’ko was federally listed as endangered in 1984.
Previous efforts to establish ko’ko’ in snake-reduced areas on Guam have been thwarted by feral cat predation and feral ungulates. Cocos Island provides a cat and ungulate-free environment where brown treesnake control can be facilitated through rodent eradication and the implementation of biosecurity and response protocols.
The USDA and the EPA are in cahoots, scheming against Guam’s invasive brown tree snakes, or are they throwing a party? Here.
September 2012. A new study on the island of Guam reveals that the near-total loss of native birds caused by the invasive brown tree snake has led to a huge increase in the number of spiders. During certain times of the year, arachnids on Guam occur at 40 times the rate of nearby islands where the snake is absent and birds persist. The team counted spider webs along transect lines as a measure of prey abundance. Since there were no studies on the incidence of spiders on Guam prior to the eradication of native birds, the scientists compared the abundance of spider webs in forests on Guam to that on nearby Rota, Tinian, and Saipan that have no well-established snake populations and similar bird communities to Guam before the snake invasion there: here.