MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – The Department of Land and Natural Resources will be hunting and trapping mouflon and feral sheep in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve in the coming weeks, specifically to comply with a federal court order to protect the critical habitat for the endangered, native palila bird.
The animal control will include controversial aerial shooting from helicopters within palila critical habitat. 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.
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.
The DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife is moving ahead with the hunts, which are set for July 15 and 16, Aug. 28 and 29, and from September 3 to 6, 2013.
From a DLNR media release issued on Friday:
|Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, palila mitigation lands, the Kaohe Game Management Area and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road will be restricted and allowed BY PERMIT ONLY for animal salvage purposes on the following dates:
These actions are pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapters 13-130-19 and 13-104-23(a)(3). The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open.
The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers of incompatible uses in the forest area and safely conduct animal control activities. To implement the closure, both the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea State Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:
Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office.
Due to high public participation, telephone call-ins to the DOFAW Kamuela Office at (808) 887-6063 for receiving salvage permits will be conducted from 9 a.m. July 10, 2013, to 10 a.m. the day before each shoot day. One permit will be issued per call per vehicle for one day only. Applicants can have their names added to a stand-by list for additional days, should all slots not be filled by other applicants. No standbys waiting at the gates will be allowed access. The driver, occupants, vehicle license plate, and make/model of vehicle are needed when calling in. A maximum of 15 permitted vehicles will be allowed at the Puu Koohi location and 10 permitted vehicles at the Kaluamakani location.
Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following locations (4-wheel drive vehicle are required, and access permits will be issued). There is no guarantee that animals will be able to be salvaged.
Salvage locations are subject to change:
Contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo at (808) 974-4221 or in Kamuela at (808) 887-6063 for additional details regarding meat salvage or access permits.