HAWAII ISLAND – Nearly two miles of ungulate proof fencing at the Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve has been “cut and destroyed by vandals”, reports the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
A media release issued Monday evening said a routine inspection of the fencing by NAR staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife “revealed that vandals had cut through multiple sections of fence at intervals of 5-10 meters top to bottom.” Ungulate fencing is intended to keep feral goats, pigs and other invasive animals away from native plants. However, fencing is a controversial practice in the eyes of the local hunting community, who see it as a pretext to limit public access.
The damage to the Puu Maka’ala fencing is estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair, according to NAR Specialist Nick Agorastos.
“This damage was done in one day and the cost estimate does not include the labor cost needed to remove ungulates that may have slipped through the damaged portions of fence. It’s unfortunate that we all end up paying for someone else’s thoughtlessness and complete disregard for the purpose of ungulate fencing.” – Nick Agorastos on June 22, 2015
DLNR says the first-degree criminal property damage case has been reported to the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. The state says “anyone caught and convicted of vandalizing or destroying state property faces a class B felony with fines in the thousands of dollars as well as 5-10 years in jail.”
“Whatever point these vandals think they’re making, they need to realize that they and every other taxpayer in Hawaii, ultimately ends up paying for the replacement of this fencing. Additionally, significant staff time will bespent to repair the damage which could take several months and takes staff away from other scheduled projects and regular duties.” – DLNR Chair Suzanne Case on June 22, 2015
DLNR says Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve is a high value, native forest, containing many sensitive natural resources. It and many other state lands that are fenced continue to provide hunting and recreational access, the state says.