Nēnē breeding season has arrived, which means the endangered birds are more active along Crater Road in Haleakalā National Park. Because the road bisects native shrubland, where nēnē feed and nest, the birds are especially vulnerable to being killed by cars.
To protect the nēnē, which are found in Hawai`i and nowhere else on earth, park staff have installed traffic calming devices, as well as signs and radar devices to warn people about driving at high speeds. In the busy Headquarters Visitor Center area, where nesting pairs are often seen, fences have been installed to keep the birds off the road.
Multi-lingual “Slow Down for Nēnē” posters are being distributed to rental car agencies on Maui, through an outreach program now in its fourth year. Park visitors also get a free card that lists ways to protect the endangered birds.
“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.”