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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Locking Horns with Hawai‘i’s Non-native Ungulate Issues


Conservation and management interests for sustained-yield hunting of non-native ungulates in Hawai‘i have conflicted with the conservation of native biota for several decades. Hawaiian ecosystems evolved in the absence of large mammals and all currently hunted animals in Hawai‘i are non-native species. The best-studied aspects of Hawai‘i’s ungulates have dealt primarily with direct negative effects on native biota in natural areas, but there has been little research in population dynamics for sustained-yield management. Ungulates have been removed from approximately 750 km2 throughout the Hawaiian Islands to protect these natural areas, thereby reducing the amount of land area available for hunting activities and the maintenance of game populations. At the same time, unauthorized introductions of additional wild ungulate species between Hawaiian Islands have recently increased in frequency. The majority of hunting activities are of feral domestic livestock species for subsistence purposes, which typically do not generate sufficient revenue to offset costs of game management. Moreover, bag limits and seasons are generally not determined from biological criteria because harvest reporting is voluntary and game populations are rarely monitored. Consequently, ungulate populations cannot be managed for any particular level of abundance or other objectives. Research and monitoring which emphasize population dynamics and productivity would enable more precisely regulated sustained-yield game management programs and may reduce potential conflicts with the conservation of native biota.

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