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Hunts Planned to Counter "Invasion" of Pigs


July 19, 2006

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
MEETING TONIGHT

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will brief the public and invite comment tonight on a proposed feral pig control program for the Manoa, Makiki and Tantalus communities. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Manoa Elementary School, 3155 Manoa Road.

In upper Manoa Valley, the lush backyards of longtime residents have once again become the front line on suburbia's war with feral pigs.

They're in the heliconia. The ferns. The anthuriums. Elizabeth McCutcheon has heard them growling in her yard at night and in the early morning.

"In the last six months, we have had a pretty major invasion of feral pigs," she said yesterday. "I saw two last week. One was by my dining room window."

The problem has been tackled twice in recent years by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, with limited results. Tonight, however, the state will brief Manoa residents on a program of hunting and trapping that could begin as early as September.

McCutcheon is fine with that. She has lived on Woodlawn Terrace Place since 1962 and said there was never a problem with pigs until recently.

And they're anything but cute.

"They are rather frightening," she said. "The adults are very big and I really don't want to meet one in the dark."

Hunting isn't normally allowed in the ridges above the suburban valley, but the problem with feral pigs was too persistent. Land-use officials tried two special hunting periods � one in 2002 and another from 2004 to 2005 � but only 37 feral pigs were taken.

Recent community concern about feral pig rooting, subsequent mud run-off, trail damage and long-term maintenance of the watershed prompted the state to create a five-part program that includes day hunts, full moon night hunts once a month, trapping with an O'ahu pig hunting association, a trap-building workshop and a community network to allow for rapid response to pesky pigs, said Pat Costales, O'ahu branch manager for the Hawai'i Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Hunts would be regulated with specific entry points monitored by land-use officials, Costales said. Hunters would not be allowed to use firearms, but can track pigs with dogs and kill them with knives, he said.

"We are going to go as long as we can," Costales said. "I don't think we have even stated an end date."

Land-use officials have no explanation for the surge in pig populations, nor do they have any idea how many are out there, he said.

"That has been difficult to arrive at," Costales said. "But the mere fact that they are showing up in people's yards is an indication that there are more than we like. In our public hunting areas, there is no problem."

Cory Vidinha, vice president of the Pig Hunters Association of O'ahu, has worked with the state to craft a solution. But it's no secret which solution Vidinha favors.

"Trapping and hunting," he said. "I like to hunt in Kuli'ou'ou and Pearl City side and there are never, ever pig problems in yards."

Allow the same in Manoa and the problem would be greatly diminished, he said.

Vidinha, a 30-year-old Palolo resident, is a fourth-generation hunter. He usually will hike into the mountains with his dogs, who will corner a pig so Vidinha can kill it with his knife.

"It's a little crazy," he said. "They will most definitely kill you, no problem."

Still, Vidinha is often called upon to trap or hunt feral pigs plaguing homeowners.

Monday night he caught two large boars only a block from 'Aina Haina Elementary School. They had become a problem because someone in the area had fed them and then moved.

"Pigs will generally stay wherever there is water and food," he said. "But any time the food runs out, they will move."

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com.


 

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