DLNR Press Release: Two Nene Killed This Week Remind Drivers To Be Careful
Posted on November 18, 2021 in Latest News, Press Room
(KAHULUI) – DLNR Forestry and Wildlife Division (DOFAW) biologists urge people to drive with aloha, now and during the next vacation, and slow down for endangered birds.
A related nēnē couple, a man and a woman, were hit and killed by cars on A’alele Street near Kahului Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
A former DOFAW employee found the geese on the road. The female was dead and the male died shortly after. The male may have been hit after the female, while he was trying to stay close to his partner. Nnē usually stay close to their mates or goslings after being injured.
Nēnē’s nesting season coincides with the travel and shopping season during the holidays. The paved roads look like lava flows their ancestors evolved over, and their large size makes it difficult for them to take off quickly. Nēnē adults and goslings can cross busy roads until April. Adults moult and replace flight feathers at the same time each year and juveniles are not ready to fly.
Nēnē prefers grassy areas, so parks and golf courses are magnets for them. People can also protect this endangered species by keeping dogs on a leash in beach parks and near golf courses, and not feeding them.
Stephanie Franklin, a DOFAW biologist in Maui, estimates that there are around 15 nēnē in the bustling central Kahului area, moving between Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanahā Beach Park, and nearby grassy areas. .
“We’re so lucky to be able to see nēnē and three other endangered waterbird species, right in the middle of town,” Franklin said and noted that the privilege means an added responsibility to share the space with Hawai’i endemic wildlife.
Unique to the Hawaiian Islands, the nēnē were on the verge of extinction with only 30 birds on Hawai’i Island in the 1900s. The Nēnē were reintroduced to Maui in the late 1960s in Haleakalā National Park. Today there may be around 500 nēnē recovering ancient wetland and grassland habitat at all elevations of Maui.
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