First axis deer hunted down on Hawaii, DLNR provides photo proof

HILO, Hawaii: The Department of Land and Natural Resources says on April 11th, the first axis deer to be taken on Hawaii Island as a part of an official, coordinated control effort was recorded, and the state has provided proof of the kill in a photo showing a hunter with an obscured face.

This image was provided as proof of the axis deer kill.

This revised media release was issued on Friday afternoon:

To protect Hawai‘i Island from the impacts of axis deer that were illegally introduced and are now spreading, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), has been providing resources for a team to investigate the known locations of, and more recently to begin controlling deer. Axis deer are not native to Hawai‘i, and they are known pests of agriculture, as well as native and culturally significant plants, many of which are already endangered.

Recognizing the impact this invasive species can have on local cattleman and farmers, a partnership between conservation groups and the agricultural community was formed last year. It has since proved its readiness to address this new threat with the taking of the first axis deer on the Big Island on April 11, 2012, as part of an official program to remove these unwanted pests from the island.

This comes after nearly a year of extensive field surveys, training and coordination with land owners and managers. The team is actively working toward the goal of eradicating the population before Big Island ranchers and farmers face the same problems now occurring on Maui and other places where deer populations are exploding at the expense of local communities.

“We only need to look at Maui to see the devastating impacts axis deer can have on local people, especially ranchers and farmers,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson. “For the past year we have been chasing reports and leads about several deer populations on the Big Island, and we are very pleased to see the progress being made by the team. We are hopeful, with the community’s cooperation, that we can get all the deer off the Big Island before it’s too late,” he said.

Officials believe the axis deer were smuggled to the Big Island and released by private individuals. Although there has been no official investigation, Hawaii Senator Gil Kahele and government agencies have responded quickly by reviewing existing statutes and rules to strengthen them and increase penalties for unsanctioned movement of game mammals.

“I want to commend the DLNR, HISC and BIISC for their efforts to control, and for working closely with the local ranchers and other land owners – which has led us to this success,” said Sen. Kahele. “This is an issue that needs immediate resolution by getting rid of the deer before they become a problem. I think this issue really emphasized the need to focus more attention on inter-island transportation issues to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

“We appreciate the efforts by the BIISC and DLNR to eradicate any population of axis deer on Hawai`i Island,” said Russell S. Kokubun, Chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “The deer are considered injurious wildlife and pose a serious threat to the environment and agriculture.”

Unlike Maui, which has struggled with the damage done by axis deer on farms, ranches, and in the forest and watersheds, the Big Island has been spared of these impacts without an established axis deer population in the past.

In response to the recent effort of the partnership, Tim Richards, president of the Cattlemen’s Association and owner of Kahua Ranch said, “We are concerned about the impact that deer have had on our neighboring islands – and the losses that farmers and ranchers have incurred, especially during drought. The axis deer has proven itself to be a menace to the cattle industry specifically. If we want to promote local food production and sustainable ranching, then we need to get rid of the deer before they become established.”

Big Island conservation groups are also concerned about the impact another ungulate (hoofed animal) will have on native ecosystems already under threat – particularly one that can leap over fences ten feet high.

Although the Big Island Invasive Species Committee is staffing the control effort, it is being guided by DLNR and other conservation organizations and agriculture associations.

Jan Schipper, BIISC manager, said, “We are fortunate to have two highly skilled marksmen working on this project, who were trained by hunters on Moloka‘i, to ensure that animals are treated as humanely as possible. We are not able to disclose the exact locations of deer we have sighted, or the animal that was shot, out of respect for cooperating landowners’ privacy. We are mindful that trespassing and poaching are a major concern for some landowners.”

“We have a very strict protocol in place to ensure that we not only remove the problem deer with the landowner’s blessing, but also verify that the deer do not have any diseases. Since we do not know who brought the deer, where they came from or how they got here – we cannot be sure of the risks these animals present, so we are taking every precaution,” Schipper said.

Reports of axis deer sightings across the Big Island have been increasing over the past year, since the Big Island Invasive Species Committee took a photograph of one in Ka’u District with a game camera on April 29th of 2011. The game camera was set up in response to a deer sighting made by local ranchers. Before this date the project has focused on mapping the distribution and confirming the numerous reports, and photographs were the only solid evidence of their existence.

The first attempt to bring axis deer to the Big Island for game hunting began in the 1950’s and 1960’s – a process which was halted by protests from the farming and ranching community who were already aware of the risks of this animal.

Now, over 50 years later, ranchers and farmers are again raising their concerns over the threat these deer pose – especially in light of recent flurry of reports of deer in areas dominated by local agriculture.

As Hawai‘i is working towards greater food sustainability, protecting local, diversified agriculture from the devastating impacts of axis deer will be critical.

Anyone who would like to report a suspected sighting of axis deer on the Big Island is encouraged to call (808) 936-2409.

There has been some skepticism among the community as to the presence of the deer on Hawaii Island. The photo provided by the DLNR in the initial version of the media release shows a hunter posing with the hunted axis deer, however his face has been obscurred.

[FMP width="280" height="153"]http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/media/2011/09september/0927axisdeer.mp4[/FMP]

In the file video to the right, Senator Gil Kahele sizes up his new rival, the axis deer, while visiting the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo in September of 2011. “Knowing the negative impacts that will occur to the environment and our local industry,” wrote the Senator in a editorial published in state newspapers around that same time, “I am doing everything in my power to prevent this animal from establishing itself on the Big Island.”

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14 Responses

  1. Ms. Ott

    Hunters will be doing Hawaii a great service by hunting the deer. I’d prefer to see them eradicated rather than merely reduced. As Senator Kahele points out in the video, deer are an invasive pest. Folks with no experience of them look at a dear and think, Bambi. Others, such as myself see decimated gardens and friends suffering from Lyme’s disease. Hunters, may you be blessed with good fortune and a bullseye shot.

    Anyone out there have good venison recipies to share?

    Reply
  2. Joanne

    Not all of us feel that the deer should be eradicated. Hunting provides delicious & nutricious FOOD for our family as well as recreation & exercise. If the ranches don’t want the deer on their land, they should think about erecting higher fences to keep them out. They may not be native animals, BUT are a big part of Hawaiian history as they were gifts to the King…yes people, they were gifts that the king so graciously accepted & raised. Now here you are trying to get rid of them, killing off these animals and wasting the meat too!!! I bet these people protesting the animals (deer, sheep, goat & pig) are non native as well…perhaps you should eradicate yourselves by leaving Hawaii! Leave the deer alone…you’ve already done enough damage to the sheep & goats on mauna kea!

    …and are there any recorded cases of Lyme disease in Hawaii? I’ve never heard of any!

    Reply
  3. M. Among

    The State and Country would be doing a big dis-service to the people of the Big Island, money spent on eradication could be put towards managing the population of the Axis deer..
    lot of one sided propaganda has been put out…
    Find out how much money Lanai makes during the hunting seasons there.. Hotel, car rental, food service, gas, everything to do with hunting.. money for the State and County…
    plus food for the residence of the Big Island…
    All the so called sightings……NO Proof….

    Reply
  4. TMarsh

    Plenty of native people, hunters and non-hunters, feel that the benefit of sustaining large game populations is far less important than protecting our dying native forests. The forest species and communities have been here for hundreds of thousands of years without the disturbance of ungulates and their cultural significance is huge and dates back much farther than the relatively recent arrival of ungulates. Although there has only been like one case of Lyme disease in Hawaii, the agricultural, cultural, and ecological threats are the main issue here. I’m not for what the State has coined as “Wildlife Conservation”, which is conserving invasive feral ungulates’ numbers. It should rather be called “Game Management”. These islands need native species to be protected from the destruction of these animals. Conservationists and hunters should work together to manage land by prioritizing where animals should be eradicated (environmentally sensitive areas) and where feral ungulate populations should be managed through hunting. Conservation organizations need fencing money and permission!! Right?

    Reply
  5. Delta25actual

    Curious picture, no real landmark. Could be Maui? if its here on the Big Island, would be Kohala or Hamakua? just Curious why they have some guy packing it out instead of how the state usually eradicates which is shoot from a Helo and leave the dead or dying animal to rot.

    Reply
  6. M. Among

    To TMarsh……. I understand we have plants here, that they are not anywhere in the world… only because our ancestors, and merchants brought them here… along with the animals that were brought by the Hawaiians, merchants and visitors…
    We also have plants that was brought into the State by the State for what ever reason.. of which did not work but created another problem. Then some bug brought in now we have a bigger problem.
    I agree game management is needed not hunter management as it was in the past. 1 sheep tag a year…
    now the State wants to fence everything..and eliminate what ever is inside… be aware they say on 3% 5 % 2%……… but if you only have 12% of Island that can be accessed to hunt , and you remove 2,3,4,5 % you looking at about half… kipuka ainahou… fence… Mauna Kea…. fence.. lapahoehoe water shed fence…waimea watershed fence… when will it end??? are we the animals that are being fenced off????
    Hawaiian homes land fenced….
    They have there own agenda of which does not include what the hunters would like to do to assist…

    Reply
  7. Alan

    How much did DLNR spend to send its staff to Molokai for training? Sounds like a free hunting trip on taxpayers money. There are hundreds of hunter right her on the island that hunt axis deer and could have easily “trained’ their so called marksmen.

    There is nothing “humane” about eradication….who is Jan Schipper fooling? go to http://digitalsciencesolutions.com/Maps/PTA to see what eradication really looks like!

    Reply
  8. Nani

    The eradication of wild animals in Hawaii is no surprise, since all politicians and government officials here have sold their souls for profit. It use to be that the DLNR planted and managed wild game animals for the purpose of local sustainability. Now that concern is gone out the window. Why? It is all about money. The government is after the large wind falls of Federal money generated from the Endangered Species Act, and the like. They are lining things up in the local government in order to qualify for these funds. They will create whatever lies and propaganda it takes. They will fund campaigns to sway the public. They will fill the public with fear, that eradicating “non-native” species will save our water supply. Meanwhile, the food resources of the local people are being taken away. The only hope is that the government will run out of money. People of Hawaii must unite. It is up to us to stay strong and work together, and fight for our land, our rights,our families, and our friends.

    Reply
  9. Anna

    Whether people like it or not, the local economy is supported by agriculture and business that will be affected by a large deer population, as is the case on Maui. Unemployment and feeding people is an issue, but introducing a new animal known to cause problems is not the solution!
    Far less money would be spent now getting rid of a few deer compared with fencing off the entire island to try to manage them?

    Reply
  10. John Griffiths

    Everybody had forgotten axis deer was given to the king of Moloka kam 5i in 1860′s well documented facts in Hawaiian history. So being a gift to the king IT CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY HELLO. Not to say it violates article 12 sec 7 of Hawaii state constitution PEOPLE READ IT’S FACTS. So called select few come to HAWAII n make the people of Hawaii give up there cultural , lifestyle and religious beliefs to fit there ways AND to receive federal money to do it SHAME ON YOU , BUT HAWAII SHAME ON US FOR NOT STANDING UP N GETTING INVOLVED AND STOPPING THEM , time to save our future generations from losing what was handed down to them . PELE DEFENSE FUND IS TAKING LAW SUIT ACTION GRT INVOLVED HAWAII .

    Reply
  11. TMarsh

    M Among,
    I’m talking about native plants. Ones that got here without humans help millions of years ago. Ones that co-evolved into incredibly sustainable ecosystems. More than anywhere on this planet. These new, yes new, deer, pigs, goats, cows, and sheep are eradicating our native, mostly endemic species! This is barely a food issue.

    Reply
  12. Gabe Prudholm

    BIISC can hunt and try eradicate as much as they want ,the deer have been sited island wide. Deer are way smarter and elusive than goats or sheep and they cant get rid of them. Its always government and state trying to starve the people out just look at the native americans and the eradication of the bison. We live in the middle of the pacific ocean and we need to be self reliant. Who wants to eat hormone pumped beef? Ill take venison over beef any day. Watch how much reports come in now that people know .Does can breed at 6 months old. Now that they have fired at them the deer going migrate. BIISC will need millions of dollars and an army to rid the deer. GOOD LUCK!

    Reply
  13. John Griffiths

    Common sense which has never been used is , fence areas thatd need to be protected. Example , u take 3000 acres u would fence maybe 50 acres thatd needs to be protected n fenced,not the whole 3000 acres ask any truthful wildlife biologist they will tell u same thing. Problem is there is no BIG federal grant money to do such a small project . It will cost tax payers $100,000 dollars per mile to fence 5000 acres such as puu makaala THEY ARE TAKING here on the big island which is 17 miles of fencing 1.7 millon not to say how much money it cost to do environmental impact study , management plans that’d don’t work because after they take the land they say they manage it which every hunter n forest user knows they don’t , because once u remove animals that’d take care of the forest for free YOU CREATE A DEAD DORMANT FOREST AND INVASIVE PLANTS TAKE OVER PLANTS THAT NEED TO BE MANAGED. Ask them the question does your dept go back to all these lands you have taken by fencing n eradication of animals and remove invasive plants ?i did and DLNR told me they cannot so ask why are u taking more when u cannot manage what u already taken ?? If all the animals brought by the Hawaiian people n given to the Hawaiian people are invasive so are the Hawaiian people ?. Like u tell them that’d .

    Reply
  14. RABEL 30-30

    Maui have a deer problem because they ( NO LIKE DA GUYS HUNT’UM ) if they no pay’um color.. WHATS UP!!!!

    Reply

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