East Hawaii News

Another Nene Killed Along Hawaii Volcanoes Road

November 5, 2012, 3:35 PM HST
* Updated November 5, 3:36 PM
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Another nene, Hawaii’s endangered state bird, has been killed along a roadway.

The female goose was killed early Friday by a vehicle  along the Chain of Craters Road.

The nene death, the third along roadsides this year, has officials with the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park again urging motorists to slow down and drive with caution while driving on Highway 11 and other park roadways.

The female nene that died Friday was a member of a young pair preparing to nest, said park Ranger Jessica Ferracane.

Nene, particularly females, are focusing on eating during nesting season, Ferracane said.

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They must forage not only during the day but also at dusk and dawn to build up enough body fat to produce eggs and sustain them during the 30-day incubation period. They may even be foraging at night when the moon is bright, she said.

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Complicating matters is the recent drought which has reduced the amount of vegetation at favored breeding sites, forcing nene to search further for food.

“Unfortunately, rain runoff from the pavement, combined with ground disturbance along road edges, often makes for lush grassy strips along roads, enticing birds to feed in dangerous spots,” Ferracane said.

And the nene’s coloring, which can blend into the surrounding area, can make them difficult to see.

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Motorists are urged to pay special attention to areas with nene-crossing signs as they have been placed on roads where the birds are known to congregate, and where vehicle kills occur most frequently.

“It’s imperative that drivers use caution throughout all nene crossing zones,” park wildlife biologist Kathleen Misajon said in a statement issued today. “It is understandable that people get complacent when they do not see nene in these areas for a long time; however, the park strongly urges motorists to pay attention to the signs and slow down.”

People feeding nene also contribute to vehicle kills.

On Oct. 1, a 16-year-old male nene was killed by a vehicle along Highway 11, one mile outside the park’s Ka`u boundary. The nene had fathered three fledglings last year.

Park officials said the goose was likely drawn to the spot by the public feeding that occurs at that location, which attracts more nene to the roadside and the deadly threat that poses. Officials said that “continues to be a problem” at that site.

“This species is really fighting an uphill battle,” Misajon said. “We ask the public to help us rebuild nene populations by minimizing vehicle-related nene deaths.”

The other nene death this year occurred on June 19, also along Chain of Craters Road. It involved a 20-year-old female which was a prolific breeder, having successfully raised 24 goslings.

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