After being flown to the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center at Kapa‘au last week, a young pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl), was put to sleep. The decision was made by wildlife biologists from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and was made to prevent the birds continuing suffering.
Named Sunshine, by a seven-year-old girl, who helped rescue it off the side of a north shore O‘ahu road last month, the pueo had suffered a broken wing. After being in the care of an animal hospital for several weeks it was sent to the rehabilitation center, with the hopes its wing would heal enough to either allow its release back into the wild or to be used for educational purposes at a zoo.
“These are tough decisions but we always consider what is best for the animal’s long-term survival and quality of life,” said Afsheen Siddiqi, a DOFAW biologist. After the rehab experts at the wildlife center thoroughly evaluated Sunshine’s broken wing, it was determined the bird could not be released back into the wild and that it would likely require pain medication for the rest of its life. “As painful and heartbreaking as this is for the people who rescued this bird, the DOCARE officer who transported it, the staff at Aloha Animal Hospital who cared for it, the rehabilitators at Hawai‘i Wildlife Center and for all of us; we know this was the right decision,” Siddiqi added.
Pueos are listed by DLNR as endangered on the island of O‘ahu, though not on the neighbor Islands. DLNR/DOFAW plans to initiate a population study of pueo later this year on O‘ahu to get a better idea of their numbers, range, and available habitat in the hopes to better manage and understand this species.