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Hawaii Nēnē geese increasingly struck by golf balls

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s sunshine and clear skies drive many to golf programs for some out of doors exercise, however they don’t seem to be the one ones in the hunt for the inexperienced grass.

Hawaii’s State fowl — the nēnē goose — can also be a standard customer to those programs and specialists are asking golfers to observe their swing.

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The Hawaii Wildlife Center on the Big Island has seen 17 nēnē geese hospitalized in 2022 alone — 11 of these have been from golf ball strikes.

Low-lying grasslands have been a part of their authentic habitat and specialists warn programs across the state can result in unintended penalties.

“So they’re really attracted to any areas that have beautiful, mowed grass especially,” stated Hawaii Wildlife Center president Linda Elliott. “So, resorts, golf courses, parks, athletic fields are all very attractive to the nēnē.”

“They’re getting hit by golf balls, majority of the ones in care right now have leg fractures, severe leg fractures.”

Linda Elliott, Hawaii Wildlife Center president

One situation is nēnē shed their feathers from March to April, which leaves them flightless.

“So they’re not going to be able to get away from anything coming at them,” Elliott stated. “So a projectile like a golf ball.”

Save Our Shearwaters on Kauai typically sees nēnē with golf-related accidents.

“In 2022 we’ve already admitted 33 nēnē year-to-date,” stated Save Our Shearwaters program coordinator Molly Bache, “and 12 of those 33 were from golf courses.”

If the fracture is critical, the nēnē is distributed to Feather and Fur Animal Hospital on Oahu for remedy.

“So it’s a pin that goes down the center of the bone, and then we take the pin and then we bend it and then we bring it down the side. And then we put these cross pins in the side of it,” stated Dr. Brian Walsh, Feathers and Fur medical director.

“And even though the pins are sticking out, they can still totally walk on it, you know, so they can put weight on it and move around,” Dr. Walsh stated.

The pins keep in for 2 to 4 months and the nēnē is returned to their house island for long-term care earlier than being launched again into the wild. Dr. Walsh stated his job brings combined feelings, however realizing he’s serving to them makes all of it value it.

“There’s a bit of excitement, you know, cause for me it’s kind of a puzzle to solve, so I’m kind of like, ‘Okay, here’s a problem I got to solve,’” Dr. Walsh stated. “It’s also a little bit stressful because it’s like, you know, it’s an endangered bird and there’s only so many in the world.”

Experts say golfers want to concentrate on their environment with regards to stopping these accidents and by no means purposefully work together with nēnē.

“To be honest,” Dr. Walsh stated, “just be aware of nēnēs is the key thing. Just knowing that they’re there, knowing that they’re not fast, knowing that they’re awkward at getting off of the ground.”

The State Division of Forestry and Wildlife handles calls about injured nēnē, see the record beneath beneath for contact info on each island.

Check out extra information from round Hawaii

  • Kauai: (808)-274-3433
  • Oahu: (808)-973-9786
  • Maui: (808)-984-8100
  • Molokai: (808)-553-1745
  • Lanai: (808)-565-7916
  • Hawaii Island: (808)-974-4221



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