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DLNR NEWS RELEASE: Nēnē goslings in danger from loose pets during nesting season

Posted on Mar 10, 2016 in Latest Department News


LIHU‘E – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex (KNWRC) are reminding Kaua‘i residents that March is the middle of the breeding season for Hawaii’s native goose, the Nēnē, which typically runs from September to April.

Reports of loose dogs and cats hunting Nēnē have been on the rise island-wide this breeding season. On February 10th, four goslings were found dead along the side of Kīlauea Road in Kīlauea. Given the nature of their injuries, the deaths are believed to be the result of dog attacks. Since then, three more goslings have been found dead and one more was seriously injured along Kīlauea and Kauapea roads. The injured gosling appeared to have been attacked by a dog and succumbed to its injuries shortly after being picked up by DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) staff.

“Nesting adults and goslings are especially vulnerable this time of year.” said DOFAW biologist Jean Olbert. “We are asking that the community keep their pets indoors, on leash, or in a fenced yard to prevent further attacks from taking place.”

Nēnē goslings are flightless for their first 2-3 months of life and breeding adults are often reluctant to leave their nest or young behind when faced with predators, leaving them vulnerable to attack.

Additionally, all adult Nēnē drop their flight feathers once a year. This process, known as molting, leaves the adults flightless for several weeks while they grow in fresh feathers, creating a situation where they are unable to fly away in order to escape a threat.

“We are asking the local community and visitors to the island to be extra vigilant from January to mid-May, while the Nēnē are tending to their flightless goslings, as well as molting” said Heather Tonneson, the new Refuge Manager at Kilauea. “We greatly appreciate everyone’s help in supporting protection and successful recovery of the Nēnē.”

To protect our state bird, please keep your pets indoors, on leash, in a kennel or in a fenced yard. Help keep Nēnē wild; do not feed them as it is harmful and will encourage them to beg near people, and be attracted to roadways and other hazards. Please observe speed limits and slow down for Nēnē and their families.

The Nēnē is the state bird of Hawai‘i, currently listed as federally endangered, and native to the Hawaiian Islands. Once on the brink of extinction, there were as few as 30 individuals remaining in the wild in the 1950s. Only through management and captive breeding efforts has the Nēnē population begun to recover. Their presence on Kaua‘i is a testament to 60 years of cooperative conservation efforts between state and federal agencies and local communities.

To report a loose dog, please call the Kaua‘i Humane Society at (808) 632-0610.

To report an injured or dead bird, please call the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife Kauai office at (808) 274-3433.

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Images of nene are available at:

Media contacts:

Deborah Ward, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Phone 587-0320, Email [email protected]

Heather Tonneson, Refuge Manager, Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Phone 808-828-1413, Email [email protected]