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Army Teaming up to Help Nēnē Take Flight

June 25, 2022, 12:30 PM HST
* Updated June 25, 4:03 PM
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PC: U.S. Army Natural Resources Program at PTA

Teamwork can come in many forms.

Natural Resources Program staff has successfully completed the fifth year of the Hawaiian Goose Conservation Project managed in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge at the Pōhakuloa Training Area.

The Army announced the results of the prolific nēnē season in a press release Friday, June 24.

“During the 2021–2022 breeding season, October to March, our management of habitat and invasive animals supported 16 nesting pairs of geese, and resulted in eight goslings surviving to sub-adults capable of flight,” said Lena Schnell, USAG-P NRP senior program manager.

According to Schnell, young goslings unable to fly are extremely vulnerable to invasive predators such as mongoose and feral cats. Several management methods are employed to help increase the survivorship of young geese at the refuge, or HFNWR.

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“We enhance the actual habitat in a roughly 3-acre area near the Pua Akala barn by mowing the grass, providing shelters, and controlling invasive plants like gorse,” Schnell said.

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The 22-person natural resource team also manage invasive animals in the habitat enhancement area and along key roads.

The partnership began in 2017.

“Our efforts have supported 65 goslings to survive to sub-adults”, Schnell said about that time span.

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“It’s great to see another successful nēnē breeding season. We are extremely proud of the natural resources team here. Their efforts and partnerships with various agencies across the island and state of Hawai‘i makes a difference in our combined efforts to support the environment,” said Lt. Col. Kevin E. Cronin, Commander U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa.

The Army’s efforts continue to support the island-wide nene population and significantly contribute to conservation efforts of this iconic Hawaiian bird.

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