Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has closed part of the parking lot at Uekahuna, along with a short stretch of Crater Rim Trail East to protect a pair of breeding nene.
Park officials say nesting season for the rare and endemic Hawaiian goose is from October to May. During this time, many nene can be seen on or near roadways in the park, making them especially vulnerable to deadly vehicle strikes.
“The temporary closure prevents human activity from disrupting the nene family and is an important action we take to help them survive and raise their young,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Wildlife Biologist, Dr. Kristina Paxton in a news release. “Nene face many challenges, including predation by feral cats and mongoose and deadly contact with vehicles.”
To help protect the threatened nene, officials recommend visitors slow down while driving, and watch out for the nene near roads, as well as never, ever feed them — and remain at least 60 feet away.
Female nene lay between two to five eggs per nest, which they incubate for about 30 days while the male stands guard.
Last year, a different nene pair nested near the western end of Uekahuna, which prompted a five-week closure of the entire parking lot, restrooms and overlook to protect the family.
The western overlook, restrooms, and dozens of parking spots at Uekahuna remain at this time, but may be closed at short notice should the nene need more protection.