Conservation Council for Hawai‘i
Working today for the Nature of Tomorrow

E Hoohuli!

Changing the paradigm of game mammal management in Hawaii

Overview of Hawaii's Game Animal Problem

August 2006 Star-Bulletin two-part feature article: Part 1: Wildlife in the Garden Part 2: Alien Invasion

Recent pig digging at the Kahuku-Kau Forest Reserve boundary. Photo: Rick Warshauer

"Given the political will, it would be possible to eliminate pigs from most if not all remaining natural areas on the islands within a decade or two. But while some progress is being made, eradication is not happening nearly as fast as it could...So long as a significant portion of the population remains sympathetic to the notion that pigs are legitimate residents of native forests or believes that pig presence is preferable to snaring, Hawaii’s native species will continue to disappear as pigs degrade the state’s remaining natural areas beyond recognition."

From Nature Out of Place by Jason and Roy Van Driesche, Island Press, 2000.


CCH is working with other groups and individuals to find solutions. A necessary step is for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DLNR/DOFAW) to produce an island-by-island strategic management plan for game animals. They have never had such a plan, and the result is statewide land degradation by introduced pigs, goats, sheep, and deer.

Pu'u Wa'a Wa'a on the Big Island is home to a number of rare and endangered dryland species. For some reason, this publicly owned land is still used as pasture for cattle and even feral sheep, which graze the vegetation down to its roots.

Introduced game animal damage to natural areas affects everyone who drinks water. It’s time to shift the paradigm and move toward fencing the game management areas (GMAs) so the islands can begin to recover from decades of rooting and grazing.
What can you do?
  • Contact the DOFAW branch manager on your island and ask what their plans are to control game mammals that are damaging public lands. Ask to see written plans for the the game program that detail how game management will be made compatible with conservation efforts. Contact your representatives and the governor's office and ask what they intend to do about this very costly problem. If every legislator and DOFAW manager heard from a few dozen constituents, it would have an impact.
  • Learn more about feral pigs, goats, sheep, and deer: how they cost billions annually in environmental damage worldwide, and how other places control them.
  • If you want to do more, contact the Conservation Council for Hawaii and ask to be kept informed about legislation, or ask about joining our working group.
  • If you have specific damage to report, let us know. Damage to public lands, native plants and animals, soil disruption; damage on private lands—is it costing you money? Send photos and describe the location, where and when it was seen. We’re documenting animal damage for the legislature.
  • Call DOFAW for help with feral pigs, deer, cattle, goats, or sheep on your property.
  • Work with hunting and environmental groups to improve access to areas that need more hunting to reduce animal damage. Public hunting is the first line of defense for some areas. When that is no longer effective, land managers must bring in staff to do the job.
  • Urge DOFAW to draft an island-by-island strategic management plan for game animals to include sustainable-yield hunting in appropriate GMAs and reducing the number of animals and damage they cause outside the GMAs. The game portion of Pittman Robertson funds could be used for fencing.

Kaupo Gap fenceline at Haleakala National Park. Before fencing, there was devastation throughout the area, primarily from goats. There are also cattle, axis deer and pigs on ranchland below the fence. The last goat was removed from the Summit District in May 1991 and the last pig in September 1993. Bill Haus, National Park Service employee controls exotic weeds below the fence, mainly christmasberry and silver oak trees. Photo: Patti Welton.