Wild-cattle hunt has limited success
What ever happened to public hunting of wild cattle in the state's Hilo Watershed off Saddle Road?
Answer: Success has been very limited in the hunting program that was authorized by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to remove an estimated 200 to 400 wild cattle damaging native forests above Hilo.
In the three months since it was authorized, hunters have killed only eight wild cattle, said state Forestry and Wildlife technician Wayne Taka.
But Forestry and Wildlife biologist Joey Mello said the intent was primarily to give hunters the first chance to take the animals for food. After the one-year program ends, professional hunters will go in and kill remaining cattle, he said.
The hunting area extends from the 9-mile marker to the 19-mile marker of Saddle Road, Taka said. It reaches from the road to the Wailuku River, a distance of one to two miles.
A number of factors make the area unattractive to hunters, Taka said.
"The area is pretty rough. To get in is very hard walking through thick forest," he said. Mats of uluhe, false staghorn fern, also slow movement.
"It's pretty wet back in there, too," he said.
The single muddy road into the area has just been bulldozed, but driving it is still unpleasant, Taka said.
Mello said a period of dry weather toward the end of last year encouraged hunters, some of whom have marked trails and can reach hunting areas in about two hours.
Hunting had another beneficial effect. Ranchers with bordering lands, knowing stray animals might be shot, have repaired fences to keep cattle out of the forest, according to a Land Department statement.
This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter Rod Thompson.
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