The Pueo Owl is a sub-species of the short-eared owl that is found only in Hawaii. Once found throughout the islands including in the Ewa/Kapolei area. Over the last several months members of the community have expressed concern about this endemic bird. Thursday night an informational meeting was held about the Pueo Owl and the possible impact of development on it's natural habitat.
"They're like little puff balls and they're so intelligent, their eyes are bright," says Jenny Hoskins, US Fish and Wildlife
No better place to discuss the Pueo than on the UH West Oahu Campus where it's the school mascot. Dozens turned out to learn more about the native short-eared owl including experts from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service and bird lovers.
"I wanted to know how the owls got all the way here to Hawaii, i just moved here from Florida and I've always liked owls so i just want to learn more about them," says Irene Lopez, Kapolei resident
On Oahu, the Pueo is listed by the state as an endangered species based upon loss of open grassland habitat. It's not known yet if the rail project has anything to do with the lack of Pueo sightings in the Kapolei area.
"We do know that a lot of management actions affect them and so it's imperative for us to get a better idea of what's going on with the population so that we know how to structure our management actions for the least impact," says Hoskins
Co-hosting the meeting, Senator Mike Gabbard. Concerns about the Pueo came up at a Neighborhood Board Meeting in May.
"To my understanding there has been very little studies done and so that's why it's really good to have this conversation now," says Sen. Mike Gabbard, (D) Kapolei, Makakilo -Ewa - Kalaeloa - Waipahu
Little studies and few sightings.
"Oahu has a small population and the state DLNR is concerned about them and has listed them that local population is endangered," says Hoskins.
The Pueo has been in Hawaii since before the arrival of the first Polynesians. Experts say they are an important part of the Eco-system helping to control rodents and other pests.