Nēnē Downlisted From Endangered

December 9, 2019, 9:15 AM HST (Updated December 9, 2019, 9:08 AM)
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Hawai‘i’s state bird, the nēnē, was down listed from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

This change in classification comes after 60 years of effective collaborative conservation efforts among federal, state, local and nonprofit partners. The Hawaiian Goose, or nēnē, is one step closer to recovery.

“Today’s announcement highlights the progress the Endangered Species Act intends to deliver,” said US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at the Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. “Through collaboration and hard work the nēnē is out of intensive care and on a pathway to recovery.”

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By the mid-20th century, fewer than 30 nēnē remained in the wild on the island of Hawai‘i with another 13 birds in captivity. The nēnē was listed as an endangered species in 1967 and in the decades following, nearly 3,000 captive-bred birds were released at more than 20 sites throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. The release of captive-bred nēnē on national wildlife refuges, national parks and state and private lands has saved the species from imminent extinction.

As a result, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a decision to downlist the nēnē from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Today, there are more than 2,800 birds with stable or increasing populations on Kaua‘i, Maui and Hawai‘i Island and an additional population on Moloka‘i.

“While we pause to celebrate this hard-won milestone for Hawai’i’s state bird there are many more species, plants, and animals, here in Hawai`i that are equally imperiled as the nēnē once were,” said Robert Masuda, the First Deputy for the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resource. “Hawai`i is the endangered species capital of the nation with over 500 federally-listed threatened or endangered species and which will all need equal attention and effort from all of us to reverse their current courses toward extinction.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement on the downlisting of Hawai‘i’s state bird:

“The recovery of the nene shows how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. With a science-based recovery plan and a strong partnership between the state and federal governments, the species has gradually rebounded. We have a long way to go before the nene is completely recovered, and it will require continued protections, but this is an important milestone. I thank the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the many environmental organizations and volunteers who have worked to save our iconic state bird.”

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