By TOM CALLIS Hawaii Tribune-Herald
The alala hasn’t been seen in the wild for about 13 years, but an effort to prevent Hawaii Island’s native crow from going the way of the dodo could soon begin to pay off.
According to a draft of the state’s revised Wildlife Action Plan, there are now 114 alala being raised in captivity — enough to begin reintroducing the birds to the island’s forests as early as next year.
But any celebrations at this point might be premature.
Scott Fretz, the state’s Fish and Wildlife chief, said funding still needs to be secured to support reintroduction — which includes tracking, veterinary support and predator control — and give them the best chance of survival.
He didn’t have a cost estimate immediately available, but a 2008 alala recovery plan drafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated the total cost of implementation at $14.38 million over a five-year period. That estimate included breeding in addition to reintroduction and other support costs.
“We’ve got some funding to do this; we don’t have all the funding we need,” he said.
“We’re still looking for a complete funding package to sustain it in the long term.”
Fretz said additional funding could come from state or federal sources.