LIHUE >> One of Kauai’s oldest nene has died after being struck by a vehicle.
The nene named Black XL was brought to the island in 2000 as part of a re-population effort for the endangered Hawaiian geese. She was one of 12 nene killed or injured by motorists since January, The Garden Island reported Monday.
“She was an older bird and a successful breeder for many years,” said Kim Uyehara, biologist for the Kauai National Wildlife Complex through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The death is prompting officials to again remind motorists to be careful driving near nene because many of them are flightless this time of year. From January through early May, nene stay on the ground because it’s breeding season, so goslings aren’t yet able to fly, and adults are shedding feathers. By next month, they’ll be taking flight again.
“They’re particularly vulnerable this time of year,” Uyehara said.
Nene numbers dwindled to 30 in Hawaii in the 1950s. Because of the re-population effort, 2,500 of the birds are in Hawaii, half them on Kauai, where there’s a lush environment and a lack of threat from mongoose.
“The nene is a success story,” Uyehara said of what’s known as the world’s rarest goose. “It’s not without challenges, but the conservation has been a success story.