Oahu nene likely from the Big Isle


KAHUKU, Oahu — A federal biologist said Wednesday a pair of endangered Hawaiian geese that hatched goslings and settled on Oahu’s north shore were likely on their way back to Kauai from the Big Island when they stopped in Kahuku.

Annie Marshall of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the nene pair was taken from Kauai to the Big Island within the last two years as part of a program to move geese away from lagoons next to the Lihue airport.

They are the first Hawaiian geese to make a home on Oahu since at least the 1700s, nesting at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge.

They were first observed on the island about Jan. 9. The female laid four eggs in February. Three hatched March 13.

Wildlife officials said another pair of nene were spotted at Makapuu on Oahu’s south shore, but didn’t stay.

The endangered Hawaiian goose is found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Scientists have been hoping nene would return to Oahu as the species continues to rebound from near extinction.

There were just 30 of the geese in the 1950s when biologists began breeding them in captivity to save the population.

Now, there are more than 2,000 on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.

“We were hoping, as recovery progressed, that eventually there would be nene on all the main islands where they used to occur,” Marshall said. “It’s a little sooner than we thought it would happen but it’s all part of recovery.”

Scientists think the birds are descendants of Canada geese that flew here nearly 1 million years ago.

The James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu’s North Shore was established in 1976 to provide habitat for endangered waterbirds. It expanded in recent years to provide a home for seabirds, native plants and other species.

 

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