Nene Goose
by Cody Valeros, 4th grade

Why is Hawaii's Nene goose vanishing? Long ago the Nene goose use to roam all over the Hawaiian islands. There used to be thousands of flocks, but now they are almost gone because of predators and humans. Presently there are less than 800 Nenes left in the state. It just so happens that the Nene is Hawaii's state bird. We are really taking this threat seriously because if they disappear, we and our future generations will never get to see them again.

The Nene goose was named our state bird on May 7,1957, by the legislature. The Nene goose is unique because their feet are longer than other geese. They have a shorter wing span, and they nest during the winter. Another thing is that the Nene's toenails are longer and stronger than other geese. The pads on their feet are thicker because of the habitat in which they live. They can be found in places that are 4,000 ft. above elevation such as in the mountains, on volcano slopes, and in craters. You can even find them hiding or nesting in Pukiawe bushes.

The Nene's diet includes the O'helo and Pukiawe berries, other fruits, and grasses such as the crab grass.

There are several reasons why the Nene is endangered. One of the most important reasons is because of us. It is because humans are the ones who came to this land and destroyed the Nene's habitat. Humans are also responsible for shooting and killing them for game and sport. The second most important reason is because of predators. Predators such as cats, rats, mongoose, and dogs play a big part of the Nene's disappearance. The mongoose especially is a nuisance because they like to feast on the Nene's eggs. The third reason is when the Nene is molting their wing feathers fall off which makes it difficult for them to escape from their predators. Lastly, when they are nesting, they get attacked unexpectantly by their enemies because they are just sitting on their eggs.

Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations that are helping the Nene to increase in population. We are helping them by having captive breeding program such as on Molokai and on the Big Island of Hawaii. Just remember the #1 rule in helping the Nene.. Keep them wild! Do not feed them.

Read more about Nene Goose by going to Nene Goose O'Molokai

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