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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 8:59 a.m., Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hilo motorist runs over, kills 2 endangered nene geese

Associated Press

HILO, Hawai'i — An unknown motorist drove over three nene geese near Hilo this week, killing two of the endangered birds and injuring another.

The birds were obviously hit by a vehicle but there were no witnesses, said James Weller, a conservation resources enforcement officer with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

He found the Hawaiian geese in the Hilo-bound lane of Kalaniana'ole Street on Tuesday afternoon.

Harming the endangered bird is punishable under federal law by up to $50,000 in fines and a year in jail.

Joey Mello, a department wildlife biologist who responded to the incident, said the three nene were a family. The two dead geese were the parents.

The offspring was taken to a veterinarian to be treated for an injured wing and elbow.

The mother goose carried an identification tag indicating she was part of a nene colony that lives on the W.H. Shipman estate refuge in Kea'au, Mello said.

The family had been "fairly productive" in reproducing and was part of a flock of eight nene that has been visiting the beach park recently, he added.

Hawaiian geese nesting at the Shipman estate fly along the ocean and stop at Leleiwi Beach Park because they like the short grass, Mello said.

There are about 400 nene on the Big Island, he said.