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Slow Down. Save a Nēnē.

December 8, 2014
Nēnē crossing the road by Nene Xing sign.

Nēnē crossing the road by Nene Xing sign.

Nēnē breeding season has arrived, which means the endangered birds are more active along Crater Road in Haleakalā National Park. Because they often seek food in the short grass along road shoulders, the birds are especially vulnerable to being killed by cars.

“The park road bisects the nēnē breeding habitat,” said park wildlife biologist Cathleen Bailey. “Nēnē literally cross roads to ‘get to the other side.’”

Nēnē eggs in a nest.

Nēnē eggs in a nest.

During the 2013 and 2014 nesting seasons, four and six nēnē, respectively, were killed by cars on park roads. In response to these mortalities, park staff moved nesting families away from roads, controlled roadside plants, and installed traffic calming devices.

“Slowing down and driving carefully are the most important actions visitors and local drivers can take to help this species,” said park superintendent Natalie Gates. “This is especially true on cloudy days, at dawn or dusk, or in other low light conditions.” She added, “We need everyone’s help to protect the nēnē.”

Nēnē and goslings close up.

Nēnē and goslings close up.

To educate visitors who aren’t familiar with nēnē or their habits the park developed multi-lingual “Slow Down for Nēnē” posters with funding provided by the Hawai`i Pacific Parks Association, a non-profit partner. The posters and stands are being distributed to rental car agencies on Maui. “If a rental car agency hasn’t gotten a poster or stand yet, please contact us,” said chief of interpretation Polly Angelakis. “We’ll get them to you.”


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