HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials reported that three nēnē were fatally hit by vehicles along the Chain of Craters Road on the Big Island in October.
Although there are nēnē crossing and warning signs posted throughout the park and along sections of Highway 11, Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road urging motorists to slow down and watch for geese, nēnē continue to be killed. The most recent died Thursday, Oct. 21.
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The male mate of the nēnē that died Thursday morning was also killed last week on the same road near the Mau Loa o Maunaulu trailhead.
Rhonda Loh, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park superintendent, added that nēnē should never be fed by people because it is unhealthy for them. Feeding nēnē can also cause them to become too comfortable around humans and vehicles — which may be fatal.
Officials said park staff observed nēnē eating rice, crackers and other food left behind in the parking lot and surrounding areas. Although the food gets removed, park management may decide to close the lot if nēnē continues to gather near the vehicles.
Park officials also urge visitors to stay away from the nēnē pair that frequent the former Jaggar Museum parking lot at the new Uēkahuna eruption viewing area.
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Nēnē is present at the park and other Hawaii locations year-round, but October through May is their breeding and nesting season — which is vital for their survival. According to park officials, nēnē is also the largest native land animal in the state and the rarest goose in the world; there are approximately 3,500 nēnē that exist statewide.