Maui News

Hawai‘i State Bird, Nēnē Proposed for Downlisting

March 30, 2018, 3:22 PM HST
* Updated April 2, 7:58 AM
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The US Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed downlisting the Hawaiian goose, or nēnē, from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Baby nēnē born at Kahili Golf Course in Waikapū, Jan. 2016. Photo credit: Kahili Golf Course.

The nēnē was first protected in 1967 and has been the subject of a concerted recovery effort, including captive breeding, predator control and habitat protection.

Nēnē numbers have climbed from 30 in 1960 to more than 2,800 today. That includes 616 living on Maui, 35 on Molokaʻi, 1,095 on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, 1,107 on Kauaʻi, and two on Oʻahu.

The nēnē retains protection as a threatened species based on ongoing threats from non-native predators such as mongooses and cats, habitat destruction and vehicle collisions.

“Thanks to the Endangered Species

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Act, the nēnē is well on its way to recovery,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, endangered species recovery director at the Center for Biological Diversity and former field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii. “This landmark law helped bring our state bird back from the very edge of extinction. It’s a real testament to the Act’s effectiveness.”

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“The nēnē still faces threats and needs ongoing protection, but the immediate risk of extinction appears to have been reduced,” said Mehrhoff.  “The story of the nēnē is not unique since the Endangered Species Act is working right now to save hundreds of species across the country.”

A 2016 report put out by the Center for Biological Diversity found that 85% of continental birds and 61% of Pacific Island species have stabilized or increased after protection under the Endangered Species Act.

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