HONOLULU (KHON2) — An endangered nene gosling is back with its family, thanks to witnesses who reported that someone was trying to take it.

Officials said it brings to light the problem with people getting too close to wild animals.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said witnesses saw a woman feeding a family of nene at Wailoa River State Recreation Area and then grabbing the gosling and driving off.

The woman was caught after witnesses reported it to DLNR and Big Island police.

Officials said one witness actually followed the woman into Hilo town to make sure she didn’t get away. Police pulled her over and found the gosling in her car.

“The bird was just in a bag in a bucket. It was so sad. You can see the beak sticking out of the bag.”

Raymond McGuire, DLNR wildlife biologist

McGuire said recovering the gosling was the first challenge. He then had to find the parents and reunite the family which is not as simple as it sounds.

“I was expecting a lot of excitement,” said McGuire. “They’re pretty vocal birds, you can tell when they’re excited and happy, and it seemed like the father was more worried so I was kind of concerned.”

McGuire said the family of nene which is Hawaii’s state bird is now in a sanctuary. He wants to make sure the parents will take care of the gosling before releasing them. He added that people should not be feeding the wild birds.

“They figure oh it’s an animal it must want food but the only person that it really helps is the person feeding them,” said McGuire. “It makes them feel good but it actually harms the animal a lot more.”

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

He’s grateful to the witnesses who reported it and helped catch the suspect, who officials say is a 57-year-old woman living in Hilo. She was cited for endangering a wild bird and is expected to make a court appearance on May 19.