Hawaiian Nene Goose May Be Knocked Off Its Endangered Species Perch After 51 Years

By Susan Jones | April 3, 2018 | 11:34am EDT
Hawaii's state bird, the nene, is known for its "nay-nay" call. (Photo/National Park Service)

(CNSNews.com) - The nene, the state bird of Hawaii, has been listed as an endangered species since 1967.

But now, after 51 years on the endangered list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) wants to reclassify the nene from endangered to threatened.

The reclassification proposal, posted on April 2 at the Regulation.gov website, runs 209 pages and 25,830 words.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a species may warrant reclassification from endangered to threatened if it is no longer in danger of extinction. "The Hawaiian goose (nene) is listed as endangered, and we are proposing to reclassify nene as threatened because we have determined it is no longer in danger of extinction," the proposal says.

FWS said Hawaii's current nene population totals 2,855 -- up from 600 in 1983 -- and that population is "self-sustaining" and "well distributed" in the Hawaiian islands.

"The species continues to be conservation-reliant (dependent on long-term predator control and habitat management), but with ongoing management we expect these populations to continue to be self-sustaining without additional releases of captive-bred birds."

A species is listed as “threatened” if it is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a “significant portion of its range.” The FWS proposal lists every potential and actual threat to the nene -- from cats to bees, from vehicles to parasites, to mankind and climate change -- then concludes:

We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the nene. Based on the analysis above and given increases in population numbers due to recovery efforts, we conclude the nene does not currently meet the Act's definition of an endangered species in that it is not in danger of extinction throughout all of its range.

Although population numbers have increased, our analysis indicates that because of significant remaining threats, the species remains likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. Because the species is likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range, the species meets the definition of a threatened species. Therefore, we propose to reclassify the nene from an endangered species to a threatened species.

FWS said adoption of the proposal would recognize that the nene, known for its "nay-nay" call, is still impacted by predation, habitat loss and degradation.

FWS is accepting public comments on the proposal through June 1, 2018, and as of this writing, the only two comments were resounding "no's," with one commenter calliing the FWS "WILDLIFER (sic) MURDERERS AND HARASSERS."

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