Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 8, 2019


Maxx Phillips, (808) 284-0007,

Back From the Brink, Hawaii’s Nene Goose a Recovery Success Story

State Bird Moved from Endangered to Threatened Status

HONOLULU — Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced today the nene, reduced to fewer than 30 birds in the wild 50 years ago, will be downlisted from endangered to threatened based on successful recovery efforts.

“The successful efforts to recover the nene demonstrate how effective the Endangered Species Act truly is,” said Maxx Phillips, the Center’s Hawaii director. “Without this landmark law, wildlife in danger of disappearing forever, like the nene, would have little hope of recovery.”

The nene, the world’s rarest goose, was once abundant across the Hawaiian Islands. Yet by the time it was listed in 1967 due to hunting and introduced predators, the nene teetered on the edge of extinction with just 30 birds left in the wild. Today there are over 3,000 statewide due to Endangered Species Act protections.

The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s most effective law to protect and recover imperiled species at risk of extinction, with a total of 46 species now recovered and delisted. Like the nene, several other species have also been downlisted to threatened.

Though the Trump administration has moved forward with delisting several species, it has failed on protecting many other species on the verge of extinction. So far the Trump administration has only protected 21 species under the Endangered Species Act — the lowest of any administration at this point in a presidential term.

By comparison, during the Obama administration, 360 species were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under Clinton 523 species were protected, while 232 species were protected under George H.W. Bush; 62 species under George W. Bush, and 254 under Reagan.

The nene’s downlisting announcement comes just months after Secretary Bernhardt finalized rollbacks to key Endangered Species Act regulations. The changes could result in extinction for hundreds of animals and plants.

“Secretary Bernhardt has been an opponent of this important law that saved the nene for years,” said Phillips. “If we want to have more successes like the nene, Bernhardt and the Trump administration’s head in the sand approach to the extinction crisis must be overturned.”

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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