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Fence Me In

Chris Merkord

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Bird in flight. © Christopher Pala
Ka’ena Point, Oahu’s wild and windswept northwestern tip, is the ancestral gathering place for souls of the dead, from where they jump off into the next world. Now it has new resonance as the first piece of land in Hawaii that is being allowed to revert to the way our islands were thousands of years ago, when there were no people, the only mammals were seals and bats, and tens of millions of seabirds flocked in from all over the world to nest. Kaena is now a global focus as the last hope of saving this rapidly diminishing bird species.

That hope is crystallized in nothing more complicated than a green fence, six and a half feet tall, that stretches 2,000 feet across the Point in a north-south zigzag pattern. It contains three double-door, unlocked gates that force people to close the back door before opening the front one. What makes the fence special: an overhang that allows animals to climb out, but not in; a skirt that prevents their burrowing underneath; and a mesh so fine, even baby mice can’t get through. It is one of the first fences aimed at protecting seabirds to be built outside of New Zealand, where they were pioneered to save the kiwi, and the first one in America.

View the full article on the Honolulu Weekly
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