Hunters, ranchers, and one large Hawaii landowner got together at Pahala Community Center on Thursday night, in an attempt to iron out issues that have led to recent rising tensions in Ka’u. The gathering was moderated by local hunter and Waiohinu resident Kalani DeCoito.
The meeting was billed as an information exchange, but at the heart of the matter was a controversial access issue on ranching lands, owned by Kamehameha Schools and leased by Kapapala ranch.
Kapapala Ranch has been restricting access to a road that has historically been used to access prime forest hunting grounds. The trail goes through their private, leased land and they have the right to restrict access as they see fit, according to Kamehameha Schools.
Some local hunters have been upset with the restriction. An anonymous flyer attacking the Cran family was recently distributed around town, taking things to a new extreme.
But local hunters said the problem is with illegal poachers who have no respect for the rancher’s generosity.
Kapapala Ranch manager Lani Cran Petrie said the ranch would be willing to grant access to local hunters at the gate by giving them a phone number to call, allowing them to enter the gate after leaving their name. The gate would be in operation until 3 pm.
Hunters seemed to like the idea, and those in favor of the deal reminded one another that appropriate stewardship of the aina is important.