The Nene, also called the Hawaiian Goose, is the official state bird of Hawaii. Its ancestors were probably Canada Geese that may have reached Hawaii 500,000 years ago. In 1778 when Captain Cook arrived on Hawaii, Nene were quite common, with an estimated population of 25,000 geese. However, hunting and introduced predators (mongoose, pigs, cats) were very hard on these birds and by the early 1950s it was estimated that only 30 - 50 Nene still existed. Thanks to a captive breeding program, the Nene population has increased to over 1000 in the wild and they are again breeding on the Hawaiian Islands. The easiest place to see them is at Kilauea Lighthouse National Park on the Island of Kauai and that is where all of these photos were taken. Notice the leg bands on this bird. The park staff is attempting to band all the Nene born in the park. This helps them to keep track of the individual Nene and it gives them a way to trace the lineage of each goose. This is important because, with the small number of geese in the original group, they are concerned about problems that might occur as a result of inbreeding.