A private landowner on Maui wants to help the endangered nēnē.
Haleakalā Ranch is applying for a permit to use its more than 3,000 acres of land to help the native bird population recover.
Under an agreement with the federal government, private landowners can voluntarily seek to help the recovery efforts of endangered species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, will guide the ranch on necessary conservation measures – such as habitat improvement and predator control.
"In general, when we're sitting down with a private landowner, and talking about endangered species on their land, we're trying to make sure that we have a good understanding of what their normal operations on their land are," said Michelle Bogardus, the Maui Nui and Hawaiʻi Island Team Manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We're trying to preserve their ability to do those normal operations. It might just be with some modifications."
"So if nēnē are using the property, after they (Haleakalā Ranch) have been doing conservation measures to encourage nēnē on the property, they might have to be more careful about their use of heavy equipment."
Bogardus says these agreements with private landowners are vital to the recovery of species like the nēnē.
"Nēnē require grasslands and open country. And there's very little land that's like that in the state of Hawaii except for ranch lands. So ranchers, especially on the Big Island and Maui, are critical to helping nēnē survive, and continue to grow on those islands."
Bogardus says there are more than 3,000 nene throughout the state.
A draft of Haleakalā Ranch's agreement with the state and federal government is open for public comment until March 21st. You can find the draft agreement here.
If approved, Bogardus says the nēnē will naturally move into the ranch.
You can submit comments using the following methods:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include "Safe Harbor Agreement for Nēnē at Haleakalā Ranch" in the subject line of the message.
- U.S. Mail: Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room #3-122, Honolulu, HI 96822
- In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Documents will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours between 8 AM and 5 PM at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.
- Fax: Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 808-792-9580, Attn: Safe Harbor Agreement for Nēnē at Haleakalā Ranch.