Disease, predation, and human persecution are responsible for the extinction of the wild ‘Alalā. 2002 was the last time a confirmed sighting of the Hawaiian crow was recorded.
From 1890 to 1930 Hawaiian crows were largely killed off by fruit and coffee farmers who believed that the crows damaged their crops. Unfortunately, legal protection did not deter human persecution and in 1970 the species was brought into captivity.
Twenty-one captive ‘Alalā were released in the 1990s, but that effort failed. The crows faced predation from Hawaiian hawks, feral cats, and three of the dead crows were diseased. After decades of research on this extinct (in the wild) crow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) believes that reintroduce of the ‘Alalā can be successful.
According to FWS, one of the reasons for the failed 1990 attempt was that the species’ habitat was poorly understood. The ‘Alalā requires a thick understory of vegetation, both as a food resource and protection — a thick understory provides the birds with necessary protection from Hawaiian hawks.
One hundred fifteen ‘Alalā exist in captivity today and this fall young captive-reared crows will begin the reintroduction process.
One hundred fifteen ‘Alalā exist in captivity today and this fall young captive-reared crows will begin the reintroduction process. Much of the ‘Alalā’s habitat was destroyed by cattle grazing, logging, and agriculture, so in preparation for the reintroduction, non-native animals have been removed from the reintroduction area.
The crows will be held in a flight conditioning aviary until they become accustom to their new surroundings.
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