Every US state has a state bird. And for a while, the state bird of Hawaii had found itself on the list of endangered species. However, thanks to around six decades of conservative efforts, Hawaii News Now was happy to report that the Hawaiian Nene Goose is off the list!
Of course, it’s not completely out of the woods yet. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services simply made the change from “endangered” to “threatened,” meaning that there is still a ways to go.
The nene had been on the endangered list since 1967 because there was one point in time when there were only 30 nenes left in the wild and an even smaller number of 13 living in captivity!
Environmentalists over the years have worked tirelessly to help boost the numbers. Their dedication has paid off – they’ve managed to restore the number of nenes back up to nearly 2,800 birds that are now calling the Hawaiian Islands home.
After 60 years of conservation efforts, the Hawaiian goose, or nēnē, is one step closer to recovery. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to downlist the Hawaiian goose from endangered to threatened. (Photo: Hanalei Natl #WildlifeRefuge by Cynthia Martinez/@USFWS) pic.twitter.com/lkKXw0ZKZK
— USFWS Refuge System (@USFWSRefuges) May 19, 2018
“The great thing here is, we’re moving this bird from the emergency room, or intensive care unit. It’s still in the hospital, and we still need to be protective of it, and thoughtful of it, but we’re doing it in a way that as we downlist it to a threatened species, we ensure that there’s some flexibility built-in for the neighbors and folks that will have more experience with these birds as the population grows,” commented the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt, according to Hawaii News Now.
The judgment call to down-list the Nene was met with positivity from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who released a statement saying, “The recovery of the nene shows how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. With a science-based recovery plan and a strong partnership between the state and federal governments, the species has gradually rebounded.”
Schatz followed up with the importance of taking additional precautions to continue to keep the birds protected so their numbers can continue to rise.
The lovely, adorable, endangered (unfortunately) Hawaiian nene goose! pic.twitter.com/0LapTkdHZI
— San Diego Orca (@orcawhisperer) November 15, 2016
Even though their federal status has changed, the nene will continue to see implemented safeguards to keep the species on the rise – since, after all, they are still on the “threatened” list.
The nene is a native bird of Hawaii. It wasn’t until 1957 that it was officially named as the state’s bird. The name “nene” was derived from the mellow call that they make.
Hawaiian “Nene” goose, state bird of Hawaii and considered world’s rarest goose pic.twitter.com/YjD7r0Jkvm
— jaime s. sincioco (@jaimessincioco) July 8, 2014
People had different reactions to the news about the nene:
Mary Stone Lamb wrote, “If it weren’t for crossword puzzles, I wouldn’t know what a nene was!”
We couldn’t resist sharing this #ArchiveAnimals from 1960s of @WWTWorldwide founder Sir Peter Scott & the first @WWTSlimbridge reared nene (Hawaiian goose). The nene population had fallen to 30 but thanks to #conservation efforts has recovered to 2,000 https://t.co/7t2p4RiIsU pic.twitter.com/uY0FjjChiT
— WWT Slimbridge (@WWTSlimbridge) November 23, 2018
Jenny Warren stated, “Nenes are lovely geese and are very gentle when being hand-fed. Much friendlier than their cousins, Canada geese, who will try and mug you! The WWT in Slimbridge has had a breeding program for Nene for years and quite a few other places in the UK have flocks of them. It’s good to know their numbers are at last increasing in Hawaii.”
And a third person, Karan Spencer, commented, “We still have to be careful and take care of the nene…”
After growing from a population of 30 in 1961 when the species was first listed to more than 3,000 today, the Hawaiian nene will be downlisted from endangered to threatened thanks to successful recovery efforts. https://t.co/USghMoq50t #nene #endangeredspeciesact
— NatureServe (@natureserve) December 11, 2019
Hopefully, this positive news will inspire a continued conservation effort for all endangered animals.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.