Big Isle cattle shoot draws criticism


POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2009
This story has been corrected.  See below.

The Humane Society of the United States is criticizing the state for its “;cruel”; eradication of feral cows and bulls by helicopter on the Big Island last week.

“;Our ultimate concern is how many of these animals were wounded, non-fatally wounded or crippled,”; said Inga Gibson, the Humane Society's Hawaii state director.

She said shooting cattle from a helicopter could not be done humanely because the hunt would have terrorized the animals and they may have suffered before dying.

For two days starting April 15, the state used a helicopter to shoot and kill the animals on state land in the Honuaula Forest Reserve in North Kona. During the eradication, the state shot 152 cattle and trapped 23.

The state said the eradication effort was necessary as part of a reforestation program that will replenish the koa trees under a federal grant expiring in June.

Gibson said the state could have used other methods of eradicating the cattle.

Gibson was also concerned with the wasted carcasses and the potential environmental impacts.

Hawaii County Councilman Kelly Greenwell said he was “;horrified”; that the state went forward with the cattle shoot despite a resolution in the works that opposed it.

Yesterday, the Hawaii County Council unanimously approved Greenwell's resolution asking the state not to kill cows from a helicopter—a week too late.

He said the resolution is a message to the state that the county wants to be involved in decisions affecting local residents.

He said there were other methods, such as driving the animals out on horseback. “;This is a humanitarian issue. It's a safety issue.”;

Paul Conry, administrator of the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said the state's efforts have been ongoing since 1989 and they had a deadline to meet.

He said using a helicopter allows the shooter to get a better shot than on the ground. The staff also has aerial shooting training to operate in the safest and most humane way possible, he said.

Neighboring landowners wouldn't give the state approval to allow public access to the areas, he said.

He said the state will still do some follow-up work. He didn't know how many cattle were left, but expected it to be fewer than 100.








The Humane Society of the United States supports trapping or fencing of feral cows and bulls, not hunting. Originally, this story incorrectly stated the organization's opinion.