State to try to get Big Island deer in check

Published On: Oct 23 2012 05:50:00 PM HST

No one really knows how many axis deer there may be out in the vast acreage of the Big Island.

State wildlife managers don't want to see what happened with the population explosion of the Waikaloa donkeys, happen to the deer.

"Right now we have got a chance to prevent that," said Paul Conry, state administrator of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

At one point in the 1970s, the state considered allowing the introducing axis deer, but it decided against it, given the potential damage to wildlife and local farmers.

Lawmakers recently passed a law making it illegal to transport deer between islands.

Last month, U.S. Fish and Wildlife successfully prosecuted helicopter pilot Tom Hauptman for doing just that.

Hauptman will have to provide restitution by way of hundreds of thousands of dollars in airtime to try and eradicate the axis deer on that island.

"It will have a direct negative effect on both agriculture and the environment. In this day and age, there are goats and sheep. We just do not need deer on the Big Island," said Conry.

On Friday, the land board will take up a recommendation to allow open season of axis deer over a five-year-period.

"It’s a way that the hunting community or any landowners can help us prevent deer from getting established," said Conry.

The state proposes to allow licensed hunters to legally kill the deer without any bag or season limits. It's something that's in place on Maui and Molokai.

If the land board gives the nod on Friday, it will amount to a blanket permit to hunt deer on the Big Island.

"You have to have a license, and hunt in the day time. This doesn’t give you authority to hunt at night or without a license," said Conry.

And Conry says if you are going to hunt on private land, you still need to be licensed and need to have landowner's permission.

Conry expects some opposition from hunters who do not want to see axis deer eradicated.


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