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Nene numbers growing, prompting new status as a threatened species

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    Due to a growing population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed downlisting the status of the nene from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The nene, Hawaii’s official state bird, has good news to honk about.

Due to a growing population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed downlisting the Hawaiian goose’s status from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The nene were first listed as endangered in 1967. Due to recovery efforts, including captive breeding, population numbers climbed from 30 in 1960 to more than 2,800 today, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, a national non-profit.

“Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, the nene is well on its way to recovery,” said Loyal Mehrhoff, the center’s endangered species recovery director and former field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii in a news release. “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.”

As a threatened species, the nene still needs protection from ongoing threats, including predators such as mongooses and cats, as well as habitat destruction and collisions with vehicles.

The nene, which is believed to have evolved from the Canada goose, is endemic to the Hawaiian isles and once occupied nearly all of them. It is similar in appearance to a Canada goose, except usually smaller, and only the face, cap and hindneck are black. It has reduced webbing on its feet, and spends more time on land than most other geese.

Today, there are more than 2,800 hundred birds spread across Hawaii, with 1,095 on the Big Island, 616 on Maui, 35 on Molokai, 1,107 on Kauai and two on Oahu.

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