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Motorists Urged to Slow Down During Nēnē Breeding Season

December 8, 2014, 11:10 AM HST · Updated December 8, 11:12 AM
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Nēnē eggs in a nest. Courtesy photo Haleakalā National Park.

Nēnē eggs in a nest. Courtesy photo Haleakalā National Park.

By Maui Now Staff

Motorists on Maui are reminded to slow down and drive carefully in areas where the endangered nēnē goose is known to frequent.

The Haleakalā National Park issued an advisory reminding the public of the nēnē breeding season, now in progress.

Park officials say that during breeding season, the birds are more active along Crater Road and in the Haleakalā National Park grounds.

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This includes short grass along road shoulders where the nēnē forage for food, and as a result are especially vulnerable to being killed by passing cars.

Photo courtesy: Haleakalā National Park.

Photo courtesy: Haleakalā National Park.

“The park road bisects the nēnē breeding habitat,” said park wildlife biologist Cathleen Bailey in an agency press release. “Nēnē literally cross roads to ‘get to the other side.’”

Park officials say that during the 2013 and 2014 nesting seasons, four and six nēnē, respectively, were killed by cars on park roads.

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In response to the deaths, park staff moved nesting families away from roads, controlled roadside plants, and installed traffic calming devices.

“Slowing down and driving carefully are the most important actions visitors and local drivers can take to help this species,” said park superintendent Natalie Gates in the announcement. “This is especially true on cloudy days, at dawn or dusk, or in other low light conditions,” she said.

Nēnē and goslings close up. Courtesy photo Haleakalā National Park.

Nēnē and goslings close up. Courtesy photo Haleakalā National Park.

In an effort to educate visitors who are not familiar with nēnē or their habits, the park developed multi-lingual “Slow Down for Nēnē” posters with funding provided by the non-profit Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association. The posters and stands are being distributed to rental car agencies on Maui as part of the education effort.

If a rental car agency has not gotten a poster or stand yet, they are asked to contact park staff. 

Just last week, a nēnē goose egg was found at at The Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapū on Maui.

According to golf course representatives, there are 10 to 15 nēnē that frequent the ponds at The King Kamehameha Golf and the neighboring Kahili Golf Course.

Right around this time of year, the nēnē, which is the official bird of the State of Hawaiʻi, are known to lay their eggs around the ponds, with mates that they keep for life.

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