HILO, Hawaii – A protest was held outside the DLNR building on Kilauea and Kawili in Hilo on Wednesday.
About 20 to 30 hunters and other recreation users of Mauna Kea demonstrated against the state’s policy of eradicating sheep on the mountain.
Philip Heileson, who maintains the website MaunaKeaMassacre.com, says the DLNR’s helicopter hunts are inhumane.
Even as these protestors waved signs, hunts were scheduled to be carried out in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve. The DLNR is trying to comply with a federal court order to protect the critical habitat for the endangered, native palila bird.
DLNR chair Bill Aila has time and again defended the state’s approach. He held his ground when asked during a recent public meeting in Hilo.
Last year, the Hawaii County Council voted to support an ordinance banning the state’s helicopter hunts. The measure had wide support from the island’s hunting community. However, the DLNR challenged the ban and a U.S. District Court in Honolulu ruled in favor of the state, effectively overturning the county law.
Hunting bills go before Hawaii County Council (June 8, 2012)
Environmentalists believe the wild ungulates defoliate the mamane trees which the palila depend on to survive.
Hunters dispute the science, saying there are other factors in the palila bird decline.
Wendy Cortez-Botelho, Governor Abercrombie’s Representative in East Hawaii, showed up to speak to the protestors.
Authorities were also concerned about how the demonstrators were parked on Kawili Street. Some were sent scrambling when it looked like tickets were going to be issued.