Some Volcano Park Roads Close for Nene Mating Season

Kathleen Misajon
Kathleen Misajon

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HAWAII ISLAND (KHNL) - It's peak mating season for Hawaii's state bird! Many of the nene live in Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island. Some nesting birds have been spotted so close to the road, park rangers decided to close off a 4 mile stretch to protect the nene.

Park biologist Kathleen Misajon explains, "The nene really need our help because there's so many things introduced, so many threats introduced to Hawaii that they're not equipped to deal with."

Like well meaning but potentially harmful humans and speeding cars. "We ask people to not approach the birds especially birds with goslings. Just the smallest human disturbance can cause the birds to leave or the adults to change their course of action maybe for a worse one. We close roads sometimes in the park and other areas like overlooks to protect nesting and nene that are raising goslings."

The nene have a lot to worry about as it is. "Predators- mongooses, cats, dogs, pigs and everything else," lists Misajon.

Mating season is from September to May. "So far this year we have 34 nesting attempts documented but I anticipate we'll have a few more as the season progresses."

For decades the endangered bird's population was dropping. The park's conservation efforts are helping boost the number of nene again. Misajon says, "Without any management at all they have little to no chance of survival."

Misajon details how you can help. "We ask that people drive slowly and pay attention to the nene crossing signs." Also, tell the rangers if you spot the birds so they can monitor them.

"They're the rarest species of goose in the world so it's very important we protect them." Rangers say it's a community effort to help this species once again take flight. The conservation measures are a success. The park went from saving an average of 15 goslings a year, to 40 last year. That was the most successful breeding season ever, say park biologists.