With endangered nēnē being killed by humans, state urges residents to be mindful
A female nēnē, the Hawaiʻi State bird, was struck and killed by a passenger truck last week on Haleakalā Highway on Maui.
These type of deaths have become too familiar in recent years, prompting the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife to remind residents and bring awareness to visitors that these geese are federally protected and listed as an endangered species in Hawaiʻi.
Nēnē also are protected under Hawai‘i laws. Fifty years ago the species was on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 30 geese in the wild statewide.
Successful conservation and recovery efforts, including habitat restoration and protections from the Endangered Species Act, led to their reintroduction on Maui and a rebounded population of more than 3,000 nēnē statewide. Unfortunately, great strides forward are being met with backward steps that are preventable.
The ability to see nēnē and other endangered species in your community or on your commute is a privilege, but involves some responsibility. Being mindful to avoid influencing animal behavior and potentially causing negative animal-human interactions protects our natural resources.
During nesting season in the winter, the geese look for easy food resources and explore new areas. They are strong flyers but cannot launch straight up to avoid cars. So drivers should slow down and watch the bird’s movements when they appear near a road or highway.
Feeding nēnē and other protected species is illegal under Hawai‘i state law. Making food or water available to wildlife attracts birds and other animals to food courts, busy roadways and parking lots, enticing them into dangerous, potentially fatal situations.
The state Division of Forestry and Wildlife reminds residents that the human-caused mortality of nēnē is a lingering concern affecting bird populations on Maui and across the state.
If you accidentally injure wildlife, please report it. Prompt information helps protect these animals. If you see resource damage or violations, call DOCARE at 808-643-3567 or report it via the DLNRTip app.