Nene goslings in danger

LIHUE — The Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex are reminding Kauai residents that March is the middle of the breeding season for Hawaii’s native goose, the nene.

Reports of loose dogs and cats hunting nene have been on the rise islandwide this breeding season.

On Feb. 10, four goslings were found dead along the side of Kilauea Road in Kiolauea. Given the nature of their injuries, the deaths are believed to be the result of dog attacks.

Since then, three more goslings have been found dead and one more was seriously injured along Kilauea and Kauapea roads. The injured gosling appeared to have been attacked by a dog and succumbed to its injuries shortly after being picked up by DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife staff.

“Nesting adults and goslings are especially vulnerable this time of year.” said DOFAW biologist Jean Olbert. “We are asking that the community keep their pets indoors, on leash, or in a fenced yard to prevent further attacks from taking place.”

Nene goslings are flightless for their first two to three months of life and breeding adults are often reluctant to leave their nest or young behind when faced with predators, leaving them vulnerable to attack.

Additionally, adult nene drop their flight feathers once a year. This process, known as molting, leaves the adults flightless for several weeks while they grow in fresh feathers, creating a situation where they are unable to fly away in order to escape a threat.

“We are asking the local community and visitors to the island to be extra vigilant from January to mid-May, while the nene are tending to their flightless goslings, as well as molting,” said Heather Tonneson, new refuge manager at Kilauea. “We greatly appreciate everyone’s help in supporting protection and successful recovery of the nene.”

To protect the state bird, people are asked to keep pets indoors, on leash, in a kennel or in a fenced yard.

To report a loose dog, call the Kauai Humane Society at (808) 632-0610.

To report an injured or dead bird, call the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife Kauai office at (808) 274-3433.

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