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22 Nov 2019
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Experience Kauai

A study from Colorado State University reports some good news for the koloa, the only endemic duck remaining on the main Hawaiian Islands. Although the endangered koloa is facing genetic extinction due to interbreeding with feral mallards on most Hawaiian islands, the population on Kauaʻi has not hybridized as extensively.

After two decades of research, lead author Caitlin Wells, a scientist at Colorado State University, reported:

The largest population of koloa is on Kauaʻi, where the team found very few hybrid birds. On the other islands, however, all of the birds were hybrids or feral mallards.

"The fact that the koloa on Kauaʻi are pure and have a lot of genetic variation are two really positive things that came out of this study."

Wells said the team's research provides insight on successful conservation management and the ability to recover this species.

"These efforts might one day eventually lead to the koloa being taken off the endangered species list," she said.

You can see the "petite, buffy brown and charismatic" koloa in wetland areas on Kauaʻi, such as Hanalei on the north shore and Alakaʻi Wilderness Preserve in Kokeʻe. See the full article about the study here: