Watch Out For Geese, Park Officials Say
It’s nene nesting season, the time the endangered geese are most at-risk.
At this time of year, female nene are focusing on building up their fat reserves to enable them to lay eggs and survive the 30-day incubation period.
Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park officials are asking motorists to be especially careful when driving in and around the park.
“Nene are most vulnerable to vehicles this time of year,” said Kathleen Misajon, manager of the Nene Recovery Project. “They are focused on eating and could be out foraging from dawn to dusk. They blend in with their surroundings, and in low-light periods, they are especially hard for motorists to spot.”
Grassy strips along roadways made lush by rain running off the pavement can also draw the birds to dangerous areas.
The park has posted nene crossing signs that highlight key roadside areas that nene use. These include sections of Highway 11, Crater Rim Drive, and Chain of Craters Road. Motorists are urged to use extra caution in signed nene crossing areas, and to obey posted speed limits.
“A few females have already started to nest in the park, and their mates are dutifully standing guard,” said park ranger and spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane.
Because visitors can unknowingly disturb nesting nene, the park may temporarily close certain areas to give the geese a break from human interference.
The park has posted also posted nene crossing signs that highlight key roadside areas that the geese use. These include sections of Highway 11, Crater Rim Drive, and Chain of Craters Road. Motorists are urged to use extra caution in signed nene crossing areas, and to obey posted speed limits.
Nene, the Hawaiian goose, is Hawai`i’s state bird.
In the mid-1940s, only 50 birds remained. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park began efforts to recover the species in the 1970s.
The Nene Recovery Program continues today, and park officials said more than 200 birds thrive in the park from sea level to the 8,000-foot elevation. As many as 2,000 or more nene can be found statewide.
“We’ve had a great deal of success protecting nene and maintaining the population in the park,” Misajon said. “But it is imperative that humans keep a respectful distance from the geese, especially during this sensitive time.”
Visit http://www.nps.gov/havo/photosmultimedia/nene_psa.htm for more information. To report nene on the road in the park, call 808-985-6001. Outside the park, call 808-974-4221.