Saturday, October 9, 2004

Feeding leads to
death of nene

The endangered bird associates cars
with food, a biologist says

WAILUKU » The feeding of an endangered nene, or Hawaiian goose, has led to its death along a road in Haleakala National Park on Maui, park officials said yesterday.

Wildlife biologist Cathleen Natividad Bailey said that early last Saturday, park employees discovered the body of an adult nene apparently hit by a vehicle on a road below the parking lot to the Leleiwi overlook.

She said the bird, born wild and already paired with a mate, did not have any identifying bands.

Bailey said biologists received reports of two nene on the road in the area for the last couple of weeks and that food leftovers such as pieces of muffin, bread and chips had attracted the birds.

She said nene that are fed often by motorists associate food with cars and approach moving vehicles in search of food.

"Feeding kills," Bailey said. "People were seen feeding it, and Haleakala employees told them to stop feeding them and they kept on feeding them."

Bailey said despite numerous efforts by biologist to remove the birds from the road, the nene repeatedly returned to the slow-vehicle pullout, just below the Leleiwi parking lot.

There are about 200 nene in the park. The nene is the state bird of Hawaii and is a federally listed endangered species.

Bailey said the nene mate for life, and the death of this nene means that its mate will have to conduct the difficult search for another mate.

October through March is nesting season and a critical time for nene.

Biologists and rangers are asking park visitors to be aware of nene on the road, drive carefully and not feed any wildlife in the park, especially nene.

A female nene named "IV" was killed by a motorist in January 2002.

The sex of the bird found last Saturday has not yet been determined.



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