MAUNA KEA – This week, animal control activities continued on Mauna Kea. The Department of Land and Natural Resources scheduled a hunt on July 28 and 29 to reduce the number of feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrid in the sensitive ecosystem. Much of the hunting is being done by aerial shooting from helicopters.
Originally, control activities were scheduled for June 24 and 25, July 28 and 29, and August 26 and 27, 2015 (media release below). However, the June 24 hunt was cancelled. That happened to be the same day as the second round of arrests on the mountain as construction crews attempted to resume work on the Thirty Meter Telescope.
- The DLNR helicopter hunts are the subject of “home-rule” controversy on Hawaii Island. In 2012, the Hawaii County Council – at the urging of local hunters – voted to ban shooting from helicopters on the Big Island. The local ordnance was a direct challenge to the state’s authority to carry out the federally mandated animal control in protection of the critical habitat on Mauna Kea. The video report above was filed in 2013, as the aerial hunts continued.
2015 UPDATE FROM DLNR
- DLNR officials gave the Hawaii State Legislature an update on the legal situation – from their perspective – in January 2015. (Audio from that presentation is above).
DLNR NEWS RELEASE: June 3, 2015
HILO – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids; staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids within palila critical habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), and the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on the island of Hawai‘i. Aerial shooting is required for compliance with the federal court order mandating the removal of sheep and goats from critical habitat for palila, a bird endemic to Hawai‘i.
Control schedules are June 24 and 25, July 28 and 29, and August 26 and 27, 2015
Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve from Waikahalulu gulch, north to Kemole, and east to Pu‘u Kole, Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve, the Ka‘ohe 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:
7 a.m. June 24 and 25, July 28 and August 26 and 27, 2015
These actions are pursuant to HAR§ 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, the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:
Locked 8 p.m. June 23, 2015, and reopened 7 p.m. June 25, 2015
Locked 8 p.m. July 27, 2015, and reopened 7 p.m. July 29, 2015
Locked 8 p.m. August 25, 2015 and reopened 7 p.m. August 27, 2015
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. June 17, 2015, 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 Pu‘u Ko‘ohi location.
Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following location (4-wheel drive vehicles 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:
On June 24 and 25, and July 28 and 29, and August 26 and 27, 2015, at Pu‘u Ko‘ohi. Permittees must meet at Mauna Kea Recreation Area at 7 a.m. sharp.
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.