Hawaii’s nene is one of the rarest geese you’ll ever see. In the early 1950s, only 30 of the endangered birds remained in the Hawaiian Islands, their only natural habitat.
The state bird has bounced back since then, but now faces a new threat: motorists.
Park rangers on Hawaii Island are warning drivers to make way for nene right now, when the young fledglings are most vulnerable.
The plea comes from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park after two nenes just 6 months old were killed last month by an unknown driver.
The endangered nene become more active, and therefore more visible, in late spring as fledglings, under the watchful eyes of their parents, test their wings.
The young birds can unpredictably land on roadways, according to wildlife biologist Kathleen Misajon, who manages the park’s Nene Recovery Program.
“Nene crossing” signs are posted in various parts of the national park to urge drivers to use caution. Visitors shouldn’t approach them or try to feed them either.
Thanks to the recovery program, the park alone now boasts a population of more than 250 of the world’s rarest goose.
Visitors who spot birds on the park’s roads are urged to report sightings by calling (808) 985-6170.