Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

The mongoose is an invasive species that was introduced to Hawaii in the late 1800s to control rats on sugar plantations. However, mongoose have had a devastating effect on many native Hawaiian species and controlling their population is an ongoing challenge.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The most effective ways to get rid of mongoose in Hawaii are trapping (either live traps or kill traps), exclusion fencing, and coordinated eradication efforts across communities and islands.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover why mongoose are a problem in Hawaii, different control and eradication methods, tips for preventing mongoose from returning, and the outlook for managing mongoose in the future.

Background on the Mongoose Problem in Hawaii

Brief history of mongoose introduction to Hawaii

The small Indian mongoose was introduced to Hawaii in 1883 by sugar planters hoping the animal would control rats on sugarcane plantations. Over a few decades, more than 1,000 mongooses were imported from Jamaica and bred in captivity before being released into wilderness areas on the main Hawaiian islands of Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii.This introduction of the mongoose to Hawaii is considered one of the world’s worst biological invasions.

Lacking natural predators, mongoose populations exploded across the islands, wreaking havoc on native ground-nesting birds and other wildlife. Mongooses breed prolifically, with each female bearing around 4 litters of 2-5 young per year.

They can also carry and transmit diseases like rabies and leptospirosis. Today, experts estimate there may be over 50,000 to 100,000 mongooses living across Hawaii despite ongoing eradication efforts.

Negative impacts of mongoose in Hawaii

The introduction of the aggressive mongoose has had disastrous impacts on many of Hawaii’s native species. Mongooses prey on birds and bird eggs, especially ground-nesting species like the endangered nene goose and the Hawaiian duck.

Their presence is one factor behind severe population declines in many Hawaiian birds over the past century.

Mongooses also prey on native lizards, amphibians and invertebrates like beetles, snails and crabs. One study found the mongoose introduction led to the extinction of 5-7 species of spiders and insects.

In addition to direct predation, they also compete for food and habitat with native small mammals species like mice, rats and shrews.

Beyond wildlife impacts, mongooses can spread pathogens dangerous to humans like rabies and leptospirosis through their feces. Though not common, occasional rabid mongoose attacks on people do occur. In general, experts consider the mongoose one of Hawaii’s most damaging invasive mammals.

Methods for Mongoose Control and Eradication

The invasive Indian mongoose has been wreaking havoc on native Hawaiian species since it was introduced to control rats in sugarcane plantations in the late 1800s. Controlling and hopefully someday eradicating this destructive introduced predator is critical for protecting Hawaii’s fragile island ecosystems.


Trapping is one of the most common and effective control methods used to target mongooses. Metal cage traps baited with canned cat food, bacon, or eggs can efficiently remove mongooses from sensitive native bird nesting areas.

According to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, over 17,000 mongooses have been trapped and removed from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park alone over the past 40 years.

Exclusion Fencing

Strategically installing mongoose-proof exclusion fencing around nesting sites or penning vulnerable species has proved a successful tactic. An exclusion fence established by the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife to protect nēnē goose nests resulted in zero egg loss to predators for the first time in 30 years.

Poison Baiting

Bait stations containing toxicant baits like diphacinone are utilized to suppress mongoose numbers in target areas. According to research by the USDA Wildlife Services, a 2-year baiting program on the island of Maui reduced the mongoose population in the target area by 80%.

However, broadcast toxicant baiting raises public health and environmental concerns, limiting its expansion.

Habitat Modification

Altering landscapes to reduce dense vegetation and food sources that attract mongooses shows promise for suppression. Studies by the University of Hawaii have revealed mangrove removal to successfully lowered mongoose densities in wetland habitats.

Additional tactics like clearing brush around endangered ground-nesting bird nests also helps discourage foraging mongoose.

Biological Control

Releasing mongoose diseases or parasites has been suggested but is controversial. Introducing additional non-native species into Hawaii’s already disrupted island habitats for biocontrol may lead to unintended consequences.

Still, research continues on biological agents like Herpesvirus or Toxoplasma gondii to potentially regulate mongoose populations while minimizing environmental impact.

Employing an integrated combination of these suppression and exclusion methods offers the best avenue to reduce the ecological burden of the Indian mongoose. With persistent strategic management, the dream of one day removing this destructive introduced carnivore from Hawaii’s battered ecosystems may eventually become reality.

Executing an Effective Mongoose Management Plan

Getting community and governmental support

Gaining support from local communities and government agencies is crucial for executing a successful mongoose management plan in Hawaii. Here are some tips:

  • Educate the public about the threats mongoose pose to native species and ecosystems. Create informational brochures, hold community meetings, and contact media outlets to spread awareness.
  • Encourage community members to report mongoose sightings and damage. This helps wildlife managers track populations and target control efforts.
  • Partner with conservation groups, farms, ranches, and resorts that are impacted by mongoose. Joint efforts make plans more effective.
  • Request funding, volunteers, and coordination from government agencies like the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Their participation lends authority.
  • Offer incentives like tax breaks and gear donations to private landowners who implement mongoose control on their properties. This encourages wider participation.

Securing funding and resources

Sufficient funding and resources are essential for implementing mongoose management plans across Hawaii’s islands. Here are some proven tactics:

  • Apply for grants from conservation foundations and federal programs like the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
  • Solicit donations from eco-tourism businesses, visitor bureaus, and resort associations that benefit from protecting Hawaii’s ecology.
  • Create an “Adopt-A-Trap” program allowing individual and corporate sponsors to donate funds for purchasing traps and bait.
  • Partner with universities to utilize graduate research assistants, veterinary labs, and field equipment like night-vision goggles.
  • Employ prison inmate labor programs to construct traps and process captured animals under supervision of wildlife agencies.

Coordinating efforts across properties and islands

Because mongooses readily move across property boundaries, management efforts must be coordinated across neighbors, communities, and even between islands. Recommended coordination strategies include:

  • Form multi-stakeholder Mongoose Management Committees on each island to plan synchronized responses.
  • Use GIS mapping to track incidents and deploy traps effectively based on seasonal mongoose movements.
  • Share best practices through an online portal accessible to participating property owners, researchers, and wildlife managers.
  • Implement biosecurity checkpoints at airports and harbors to check inbound cargo for stowaway mongoose and limit transmission risk.
  • Launch a dedicated hotline for sighting reports. Rapid response teams can then investigate and set up traps promptly.

Preventing Mongoose Reinvasion

Maintaining exclusion fencing

Maintaining sturdy exclusion fencing around ports and other high-risk mongoose entry points is crucial to preventing reinvasion. According to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, over 300 miles of mongoose exclusion fencing has been constructed on Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, and Maui islands.

Regular inspection and repair of any breaches in these fences by trained staff is vital. Continual improvement and augmentation of exclusion fences using the latest barrier designs and materials such as woven mesh and corrosion-resistant posts should also be implemented (Hawaii Invasive Species Council).

Continued trapping around ports and key sites

Ongoing trapping efforts utilizing multiple trap types (e.g. cage and box traps) around ports, airports, refuse facilities and other high-traffic areas can help rapidly detect and remove any mongooses that breach the exclusion fencing.

Trained pest control specialists should maintain a grid of traps checked at least weekly. Continual improvement of bait attractants like fish oil and cat food, as well as experimentation with trap design may help increase capture efficiency over time.

Public education

Community education campaigns on television, radio and social media focused on the huge ecological damage mongooses cause can motivate the public to report any mongoose sightings and support control efforts. Schools could produce mongoose awareness posters and competitions.

Workshops teaching residents how to construct and set basic mongoose traps may also facilitate early detection and rapid response if incursions occur. According to a recent survey, over 80% of Hawaii residents support initiatives to exclude and eradicate invasive mongoose, so tapping into this support through education and community engagement will be key.

Outlook for Mongoose Management in Hawaii

The invasive mongoose has been a major pest species in Hawaii for over a century, but the outlook for managing and potentially eradicating them is improving. Here are some key points on the current state of mongoose management in Hawaii:

Trapping and Baiting Efforts

There have been increased efforts in recent years to trap and bait mongooses in targeted areas of Hawaii. According to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, over 17,000 mongooses were trapped on Kauai alone between 2010-2018.

Trapping models suggest sustained, large-scale trapping efforts could significantly reduce mongoose populations in localized areas.

Research into New Bait and Technologies

Scientists are researching and developing new bait formulas and distribution methods, such as automated bait stations, that could improve the effectiveness of poisoning campaigns. Other emerging technologies like gene drives are also being explored for suppressing mongoose populations.

Biosecurity Measures

Stricter biosecurity measures have been enacted around ports and cargo areas in Hawaii to prevent new introductions of mongooses or other invasive species. Fences, traps, and detector dogs now guard high-risk areas. Continued vigilance will be key to keeping new mongooses out.

Hope for Mongoose Eradication

While island-wide eradication of mongooses is currently still unrealistic, scientists are hopeful targeted removal efforts combined with biosecurity measures could eventually eliminate localized populations. Mongoose eradication may one day be feasible on smaller islands or fenced nature reserves.

Continued research and public support for control efforts will help determine whether broader eradication is possible in Hawaii’s future.


As an introduced species with few natural predators in Hawaii, managing mongoose populations requires diligent, multi-pronged, and sustained efforts across agencies, organizations, and communities.

By implementing an integrated mongoose management plan using methods like exclusion fencing, trapping, and habitat modification coupled with measures to prevent reinvasion, reducing mongoose densities and protecting native species is an achievable goal.

With proper funding, governmental support, and public engagement, Hawaii can make progress toward limiting the damage from this harmful introduced pest and take steps toward ecological restoration.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts