Posted by: pyeager | December 4, 2009

Hurricane Iniki Responsible for Wild Chickens?

I know that this tropical post is not the most topical of topics, but it illustrates the point that the weather is more than just something that you need to follow so that you know how to dress–it affects nearly everything.

If you don’t believe me, consider this: It’s believed that Hurricane Iniki is at least partly responsible for a plague of wild chickens on the island of Kauai, which is one of the western islands in the Hawaiian Island chain.

Hurricane Iniki

Hurricane Iniki was the strongest hurricane (category 4) to ever affect the state of Hawaii, and it moved directly over the island of Kauai, with a sustained wind of 145 mph on September 11, 1992.

NOAA image of Iniki as it made landfall on Kauai

The storm caused horrible damage on Kauai and significant damage on Oahu, and here is a Honolulu Advertiser image (Photo by Bruce Asato) taken during the storm.

Honolulu Advertiser image of Kauai during Hurricane Iniki

Damage

The storm killed six and causes $1.8 billion in damages, making it the most costly hurricane to hit Hawaii. Over 1,400 hundred homes were destroyed, and over 5,000 were severely damaged.

Hurricane/Chicken Connection

While Hurricane Iniki is deserving of its own detailed post, the focus of today’s blog is the hurricane/wild chicken connection.

Many residents on this more rural island (Kauai) had their own chickens; when the pens were destroyed by the hurricane, the chickens ran free. Between having to fend for themselves after being released by the hurricane and having no natural predators, the breeding, wild chickens began to run rampant.

While the hurricane may have played a role, it’s also believed that plantation workers of the late 1800′s and early 1900′s introduced chickens to the islands, and some of these escaped over the years and became ferrell with the lack of a natural predator, such as the mongoose.

Now, the chickens are everywhere–and it’s partially related to the weather.

Thanks to my friend Megan who recently visited Hawaii and tipped me off to the chicken story.

–Paul Yeager

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