HONOLULU (KHON2) — Local officials are urging people to drive with aloha this holiday season after two Hawaii state birds were hit and killed by cars in Kahului on Tuesday.
A former DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) employee found the bonded pair of nēnē on Aalele St. near the airport. The female bird was dead, and the male died soon after.
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Since nēnē commonly stay close to their mates after they’ve been injured, officials say that the male may have been struck while trying to stay near his partner.
Stephanie Franklin, a DOFAW biologist on Maui, says there are approximately 15 nēnē in the busy Kahului area, moving between Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary and Kanahā Beach Park.
Nēnē also prefer grassy areas, which means parks and golf courses are magnets for them. Local officials advise dog walkers to keep their pets leashed near these areas to protect the endangered species.
“We’re so lucky to be able to see nēnē and three other endangered waterbirds species, right downtown,” Franklin said. She added that with privilege comes responsibility to share the space with wildlife.
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Since nēnē nesting season coincides with the holidays, they may be seen crossing busy roads now through April. Drivers are advised to slow down.