Rare Hawai‘i: It wasn’t meant to be a barnyard

70 million years of evolution. Thousands of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Introduced pigs, goats, deer and sheep roaming freely over public lands. More than 265 extinctions and counting.

Speak Out!

Problem Overview





What We're Losing

Feral Pigs and the Death of Hawaii's Native Birds

Native Hawaiians Speak Out

List of Scientific References

Don Chapman describes being in a Hawaiian rainforest

Edward O. Wilson on Biodiversity

Report about invasive species in Hawaii available online From The Hawaii State Legislative Reference Bureau (pdf file)

Research by the Secretariat for Conservation Biology: Environmental Valuation and the Hawaiian Economy takes a look at the financial and social costs of losing native Hawai`i.

Terrific link: USGS's Hawaii and the Pacific Islands page. Scroll down a few pages and look for Feral Pigs, followed by Feral Goats and so on.

Link to Nature out of place, Chapter 1 (pdf file)

Controlling Feral Animals (see how they do it Down Under)

In 2004, the State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) issued only 8,693 hunting licenses.
  • Hunting is a respected form of recreation around the world and also provides food for some people. However, in Hawai‘i all the game consists of animals from other places that were brought to the islands and released into the environment to roam and feed wherever they choose, on public and private property.
  • By failing to fence in game animals, the State has placed the burden squarely on the public, including property owners and resource managers who must pay for fences around everything they want to protect.
  • While 8,700 or so people enjoy hunting, all of the State's 1,262,840 residents continue to pay the extremely high price resulting from introduced game animals roaming freely through one of the rarest environments on Earth, feeding on endangered species and spreading weed seeds into the most remote native forests.
  • Some of the costs are so high as to be incalculable: the ongoing death of rare native plants and animals, continued extinctions, and the wholesale degradation of public lands, watersheds, and forests under the hooves of thousands of introduced animals. Some economic analysis has been done to put the damage in terms of dollar cost to taxpayers and future generations.
  • 1,196,600 acres of public land are designated as hunting areas for the benefit of a user group totaling 8,693 persons. Just 94,900 acres are for other wildlife sanctuaries and refuges. (Figures from DBEDT, State of Hawaii Data Book, 2004)

It's time to start reversing the damage. Why aren't game animals fenced into hunting areas, instead of residents and resource managers trying to fence in everything they don't want destroyed? The old way is backward, extremely harmful to the islands and to world biodiversity, and makes no sense.

What if? What if hunters led the way to this new model? Now that the harm of introduced game animals is well known, hunters could help reverse the damage by supporting fencing of hunting areas, so that the islands could begin to recover. Hunters could help clear lands outside of game management areas of pigs, sheep, goats, and deer. Then the restoration could begin: the restoration of native forests and rare species that is currently impossible because of game animals' feeding and trampling.

Hawai‘i's Game Management Agency

DOFAW is the agency charged with protecting Hawai‘i's forests and watersheds:

DOFAW Policy B: Protect and enhance the condition of Hawaii's unique native plant and animal species, and native ecosystems for their inherent value to Hawaii's citizens and for their productive value to science, education, industry and the cultural enrichment of future generations and prevent species extinctions whenever possible. (Source: 2004 DLNR DOFAW report to State Legislature)

DOFAW also administers the State's game program. Without fencing around clearly delimited game areas, there is no control over where the animals go. It is therefore impossible for DOFAW to implement Policy B.

  • For meaningful conservation of remaining native species to take place, the state must stop devoting so many resources to the tiny minority of the population who hunts and start focusing on forest health and the recovery of the plants and animals that feral ungulates have destroyed over the past decades.
  • Right now DOFAW could cheaply reduce the number of feral ungulates by ending bag limits and allowing open-season hunting everywhere, at all times (except for areas such as high-volume hiking trails that require more regulation), and also aiding hunter access to remote areas.
  • DOFAW will not change its policies until more people insist on meaningful conservation and an effective ungulate control plan. Please contact DOFAW administrator Paul Conry and your legislators to request feral ungulate control. Hawai‘i's forests are being converted from something rare and beautiful to something very different. More than 265 extinctions and counting.

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