A mongoose killed our chickens


A few days ago, Gary was staring at Ko’olau Mountain without words for a while.

“What’s wrong?

“A mongoose killed our chickens…”

Our grown chickens are free-range while Gary is on the farm, roaming around the farm eating fruit such as ulu, avocados, and bananas that have naturally fallen to the ground when ripe, as well as insects found in the grass and under the soil. In the evening, they came back to the pen.

Chicks are not released from the cage as they will be easily attacked by mongooses, wild dogs, and other wild enemies, so they must wait to roam until they have grown large and fast enough to run away.

Those killed this time were young adults carefully raised with exceptional organic food in the hutches since they were newborn chicks. Just before we thought it would be safe to let them out of the coop, a mongoose seemed to have entered through a little hole while Gary was away.

When Gary came into the coop to feed the chickens first thing in the morning, he saw the body of a young chicken with its head bitten off and scattered feathers. The mongoose’s sudden attack must have startled them, and they must have gone on quite a rampage in fear.

Gary quickly cleaned up the debris, and when I arrived at the farm, the coop for the young birds was neatly organized again. Still, he was too shocked and angry to move immediately after witnessing the carnage evidence.

The mongoose caught at our farm in the summer of 2022. This year one looks larger and more vicious.
The mongoose caught at our farm in the summer of 2022. This year one looks larger and more vicious.

The mongoose in Hawaii is a ferocious animal native to India that can grow up to 26 inches (65 cm) long and is listed as an “invasive species” by the State of Hawaii.

They were first introduced to Hawaii in 1883 by sugar plantation workers on Maui, Molokai, and Oahu to catch rats. (See Hawaii Invasive Species Conference website: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/invasive-species-profiles/mongoose/#:~:text=The%20mongooses%20found%20in%20 Hawai,’i%20and%20O’ahu.)

Although they eat rodents such as rats, they do more damage by attacking nests and eating eggs, baby birds, insects, and other small animals, including native ones and endangered species in Hawaii, such as sea turtles.

Gary has maintained a policy that he would not use pesticide poisons on his farm, and he has fenced our crops and chickens to protect them from mongooses as well as wild boars and rats that have invaded the farm. He has also set traps where mongooses are likely to appear and has confined them to cages to let them starve to death.

However, the next day after the bloodshed crime, the mongoose, which had gotten a taste for young birds, returned to the chicken coop and wandered around again, looking for an opportunity to attack them.

The chickens are colleagues of our farm, enriching our organic soil with their manure and leg skill in mixing it with the grass and providing us with fresh, delicious eggs, too. The mongoose kills these important “producers” and destroys the natural ecosystem of the forests we are trying to protect.

Today, Gary reset the mongoose traps and finally decided to use poisoned bait for mongoose control. The poisoned bait was placed in a limited area where the chickens could not get to it, and now the mongooses are patiently watched until they take the bait. He also repaired the chicken coops to be sturdy and leave no gaps.

The veteran hens, which usually run and walk outside their hutches during the daytime, are now quiet in their cages, probably frightened by the recent attack in the neighbor pens. The rainy season, when chickens take leave from laying eggs, was over in Hawaii, and they have just started producing eggs every day again. However, we must put off fresh and delicious eggs for a little while until their fears subside.

Until the giant mongoose is caught, we can’t see happy free-range chickens like this scene (2022).
Until the giant mongoose is caught, we can’t see happy free-range chickens like this scene (2022).

The readers who have come across this article are encouraged to research about the “Mongoose Control Project in the Northern Region of Okinawa Island.” While Hawaii currently has a ban on mongooses, it appears that Japan, including local governments, is actively working on removing them as well.

Author of this article

日本の新聞社系週刊誌記者、第二電電(現KDDI)広報責任者を経て米国留学。「持続可能な発展」などの政策比較研究を行い2000年カリフォルニア大サンディエゴ校で太平洋国際関係研究修士号取得。ハワイで有機園芸業を行っていたGary E. Johnsonとの結婚を機に2005年ハワイへ移住。翻訳出版とヨガインストラクターを続けながらGaryと共同で、「健康な食の生産、体と心の浄化、自然生態系の保全」を目的(3Pモットー)にした「森林農業+ヨガ・瞑想」プロジェクトをオアフ島ワイマナロで推進している。

After working as a reporter for a weekly newspaper and as a public relations manager at Daini-Denden (now KDDI), she moved to the U.S. to study comparative policies, such as on “sustainable development.” In 2000, she received her M.A. in Pacific International Relations from the University of California, San Diego, and in 2005, she married Gary E. Johnson, an organic gardener in Hawaii. While continuing to work as a translator, publisher, and yoga instructor, she has been working together with Gary on the Agroforestry + Yoga/Meditation project in Waimanalo, Oahu, which aims to “produce healthy food, purify the body and mind, and preserve the natural ecosystem (3P motto).”