Dead sheep on left on Mauna Kea, from

Dead sheep on left on Mauna Kea, from

HILO, Hawaii – A rally is planned for the front of the state DLNR office in Hilo on Wednesday morning, to protest the eradication of sheep on Mauna Kea.

The website Mauna Kea details the opposition to the state’s policy, which Department of Land and Natural Resources officials say is federally mandated.

“There is a tragedy that has been occurring for more than 30 years and it is getting worse rather than better,” states the website on its homepage, maintained by Philip Heileson. “For the last 32 years the government has been hunting down and massacring all hooved animals with no regard to waste, cruelty, or even the premise for what they are doing. In the last 32 years over 40,000 sheep have been butchered based on lies, misunderstanding and hidden agendas.”

August 27 newscast – DLNR protest planned (story 1)

DLNR has been conducting sheep and goat hunts – often by helicopter – in order to protect important watersheds and the critical habitat of the endangered palila bird, who depend on mamane trees for nesting and nourishment. State experts believe the ungulates are responsible for defoliating and killing the trees.

But Heileson – along with many local hunters who enjoy the game and regard it as a valuable food source – don’t agree with the state’s approach.

From the Mauna Kea Massacre website:

Having walked the entire critical habitat from side to side and top to bottom, I would estimate that less than 1% of the trees have been affected in any way by the sheep. The only effect that the sheep have on the trees is that they eat the lower branches and some of the bark but this does not kill the tree.

Of the few trees that show signs of sheep feeding, they still have a huge abundance of seeds on the upper branches and there are ample nesting areas. In fact the USGS did a study that found that there was a total of 1.5 million mamane trees and more than 900,000 we producing good seeds.

This eradication is based on exterior politics and special interest groups whose goal is sheep removal rather than palila bird preservation

Last year, the Hawaii County Council voted to ban the aerial hunts. But a federal judge essentially overturned the local law, at least as far as the aerial hunts on Mauna Kea are concerned. Hunts have been carried out since.

Demonstrators will gather at 6 a.m. at Kawili st and Kilauea, and will protest until 9 a.m.

“People have to work,” wrote Tony Sylvester – chair of the Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Commission – in an email promoting the rally, “so if they can stop by for half hour before work or what ever they can to show support. Pass this around!”