Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park announced today that the Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook and parking lot are temporarily closed to protect breeding and nesting nene in the area.
The nene, or Hawaiian geese, lay eggs nearly year-round, but the majority nest between October and March, and most clutches are laid between October and December, according to wildlife officials.
The gate at the entrance to the Pu‘u Pua‘i parking lot near the intersection of Chain of Craters Road and Crater Rim Drive has been secured. The Pu‘u Pua‘i end of Devastation Trail is also closed. Visitors, however, will still be able to hike about 0.4 miles from the Devastation Trail parking lot to a trail sign marking the closure.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Interior announced that the nene would no longer be classified as endangered and moved up in rank to threatened, due to its growing populations.
However, the nene, Hawaii’s official state bird, are still protected, given that their populations went through a drastic decline due to hunting and introduced predators.
In 1952, only 30 nene remained statewide. Today, there are an estimated 2,800 or more, on several isles, including Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii island, thanks to conservation efforts.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park began efforts to recover the imperiled geese in the 1970s with the Nene Recovery Program, which continues today.
Park officials estimate more than 200 birds thrive in the park — from sea level to about 8,000 feet in elevation.