Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park said it reopened the Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook parking lot and Devastation Trail today after a four-month closure to protect breeding and nesting nene (Hawaiian geese) in the area.
The temporary closure that began in December gave an adult nene pair the space they needed to successfully rear their gosling to a fledgling, according to park officials. Signs were posted in the area to inform visitors of the closure.
The breeding season for the Hawaiian state bird is winding down, but park officials remind the public to always stay 60 feet away from the endangered nene, and to never feed them. Feeding nene is not a good idea because the ones that are comfortable with people and handouts are more likely to be killed by vehicles.
Once on the edge of extinction — only 30 nene existed statewide in 1952— the nene are now growing thanks to numerous recovery efforts.
The nene have been protected as an endangered species since 1967.Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed downlisting the Hawaiian goose from endangered to threatened due to their growing numbers to more than 2,800 birds across the isles. As a threatened species, the geese would still be protected.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park began efforts to recover the endangered nene in the 1970s through the Nene Recovery Program, which continues today. Park officials estimate more than 200 birds currently thrive in the park — from sea level to an elevation level of 8,000 feet.