KAHUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A pair of endangered Hawaiian geese that have hatched goslings and settled on Oahu's north shore were likely on their way back to Kauai from the Big Island when they stopped in Kahuku, a federal biologist said Wednesday.
The nene pair was taken from Kauai to the Big Island within the last two years as part of a program to move geese away from lagoons next to the Lihue airport, said Annie Marshall, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff biologist.
They are the first Hawaiian geese to make a home on Oahu since at least the 1700s, nesting at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge.
Another pair of nene was spotted at Makapuu on Oahu's south shore, but didn't stay.
There were just 30 of the geese in the 1950s when biologists began breeding them in captivity to save the population. Now there are more than 2,000 on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island.
"We were hoping, as recovery progressed, that eventually there would be nene on all the main islands where they used to occur," Marshall said. "It's a little sooner than we thought it would happen but it's all part of recovery."
The pair was first observed at the base of a windmill at the Kawaiola wind farm near Waimea Bay in early January, said Aaron Nadig, a biologist with the agency. They showed up at the wildlife refuge shortly after and haven't left since, said Marshall.
The geese swam in a canal and pond and walked across grass as members of the media watched from a careful distance on Wednesday. One adult led the way, while the three goslings and second adult followed close behind.
The refuge is one of the better places they could be on Oahu because it's surrounded by fences to keep out dogs and pigs. It has traps to catch smaller predators like mongoose and bullfrogs.