Provincial views block shared goals
The Nature Conservancy will soon begin a forest recovery project on Kauai and Molokai.
A conservation group's effort to track and hunt wild pigs, goats and other animals that severely damage Hawaii's native forests could eventually set a paradigm useful in returning health to impaired mountain-to-ocean ecosystems.
Though some hunters are challenging the project on Molokai, the shared goal of restored forests and reefs should not lead to conflict. There is much to be gained for all from the research and data that will be gathered.
The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii is close to completing work on its forest recovery project on Maui and will begin on Kauai and Molokai shortly. The project tracks movement and behavior of non-native animals to determine where strategies such as fencing is and isn't productive and to assess hunting methods effective in curbing destructive populations.
The Conservancy has hired a New Zealand animal management firm to hunt and track, which appears to be the provincial source of contention for some on Molokai. However, the project will be conducted on Conservancy preserves and private lands not often frequented by hunters. Using GPS monitors and other technology, the Conservancy is able to assemble information, framing plans to deal with problems the animals cause.
Less than half of Hawaii's native forests remain in good health; on Molokai, just 15 percent of native forests are intact. The loss of native forests leads to erosion that has soil running off into the ocean, smothering reef systems important to subsistence and recreational fishers and to the ocean environment.
Controlling problems caused by non-native animals and plants is tough and the Conservancy's work will be valuable in that struggle.
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