Lawmakers make a helpful aim at hunters

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Jan 17 2014 05:45:17 PM HST
Updated On: Jan 17 2014 08:22:19 PM HST

Five new bills are being introduced into the house this session that aim to protect public hunting land and enforce wildlife laws across the state.

HONOLULU -

Handful of bills were introduced into the House, all focused on keeping the culture of hunting alive in Hawaii.

Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's story.

Lawmakers said hunters approached them wanting to be heard in this growing urban environment.

Allowing hunters to hunt seems simple enough, but Rep. Cindy Evans says the population has shifted.

"This is the first year in history that more people live in urban environments than rural environments," said Evans.

And because of that there's concern city residents might not understand the need for hunters.

"Hunters are conservationists. They are our eyes, they are the ones that walk the land, see what's going on and are in the forefront in protecting our habitat," said Evans.

They point to the situation on Maui.

"We have a very big problem on Maui with axis deer," said House Speaker Joseph Souki.

There were more than 8,000 deer at last count. Some believe hunters can keep that population from getting out of control.

"They wanted the department and people who managed game to work with them and be a part of the removal of some of their animals," said Evans.

Five new bills being introduced this session could help protect hunting. One makes it harder to take away public hunting land, another would let children tag along. There's also a bill to help the Board of Land and Natural Resources enforce wildlife laws across the state.

"It's very important that if people are doing bad things in other states that they have the ability to share that information because we don't want people coming here and poaching," said Evans.

The other two bills are designated to make September "Outdoor Heritage Month," and one that would allow certain veterans to get lifetime hunting licenses for a small fee.

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