Big Island Donkeys To Be California Bound

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Aug 04 2011 10:12:18 PM HST
Updated On: Aug 05 2011 03:12:26 AM HST

Operation Donkey Lift: More than a hundred kona nightingales head for California.

HONOLULU -

The Humane Society of the United States is planning to take 100 feral Big Island Donkeys on a chartered plane to Los Angeles next month.

The donkeys will then be taken to two separate animal sanctuaries. ?Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in Tehachapi is going to receive the bulk of them, maybe 75 to 80. And Eagle Eye, which is in Northern California will get maybe a dozen or so.? said Hawaii spokeswoman Inga Gibson.

This latest twist on curbing the populations of wild donkeys, is part of a massive effort that?s been underway since last year. Drought conditions forced the donkeys from the highlands down into Waikoloa Village in search of water. But the reports of donkeys appearing down by the highway and near Waikoloa School began to worry the community. The Humane Society of the U.S. teamed up with veterinarian Brady Bergin. The hungry animals were easy to trap with water and feed and Bergin began mass castrations of the males and administering a female contraceptive to the mares. Bergin has sterilized 200 of the original herd of about 600. At the end of the month, he will have help from about four to five mainland vets who will set up a castration clinic at Waikii ranch where about a hundred donkeys have been captured. They will be preparing the donkeys for the flight. There are health certificate requirements. We will be sterilizing the jacks. We don't want to spread the population.

Gibson said the donkeys will fly Pacific Airlift which routinely does equine transport. It?s not cheap. A chartered flight will run in the thousands of dollars.

?We have had some wonderful support from some key donors but as you can imagine it takes a lot to charter a flight,? Gibson said.

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