(BIVN) – The Game Management Advisory Commission continues to try to convince Hawaiʻi state officials to support a game management plan for the Big Island, but a report delivered by a GMAC commissioner during a recent meeting points to a persistent divide.
During the July 30 GMAC meeting held in Hilo, commissioner Nani Pogline shared her notes from a talk she had with state officials that occurred a few days earlier.
Local hunters are hopeful the state will get behind a game management plan for the island, but the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW, under the Department of Land and Natural Resources) says “there will not be a game management plan” as hunters envision, but rather a “hunting program,” Pogline said.
“The hunting program will entail expanding hunting opportunity and reducing bag limits,” Pogline reported. “Consideration for game count, rest, reproductive season, or refuge will be minimal. A hunting program, rather than a conventional conventional game management plan, removes DOFAW from liabilities and pressure from environmental communities and agencies representing endangered species,” she read from her meeting notes, “so it’s about removing liability for them.”
Her fellow commissioners shook their heads.
“It was suggested that the hunters get together to educate and agree upon an informal game management plan of their own,” Pogline said. “But it was warned that any such practices may result in pressure on DOFAW for more eradication of game species, if any of the opponents got wind that the hunters were actually practicing a game management plan.”
“DOFAW has made some efforts in tracking game count and maintaining access,” Pogline continued, “but while hunter participation and help is encouraged – and needed in analyzing game populations – the complaint is that the public too often injects what is considered unwanted personal opinions and uneducated conclusions. This makes cooperative management difficult as the validity of information coming from hunters is often perceived invalid.”
“Changing rules, mandates, regulations and statutes to accommodate game and hunter is still far off,” Pogline reported. “Even acquiring an incidental take license would allow our game to coexist with endangered species to a degree. But they said this cannot be obtained without the completion of the long, nearly 20-years stalled, habitat conservation plan.”
The next GMAC meeting is scheduled to take place in August 2019.