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Hawaii Mystery Solved: Pilot Illegally Flew Axis Deer from Maui to Big Island

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August 22, 2012

Hawaii Mystery Solved: Pilot Illegally Flew Axis Deer from Maui to Big Island

--Chad Love

Here's one from the "Only in Hawaii" files. A helicopter pilot has pleaded guilty to illegally flying non-native axis deer and mouflon sheep from Maui (where they occur) to the Big Island (where they don't) so they could be hunted.

From this story on the Huffington Post
A helicopter pilot is pleading guilty to illegally flying deer from Maui to the Big Island, shedding light on a mystery that has been bewildering Hawaii: how did axis deer, an animal that can't swim across the ocean, get to another island? But now federal authorities say the people behind the scheme also took several mouflon sheep from the Big Island and flew them to Maui. Neither axis deer nor mouflon sheep are native to Hawaii and don't have natural predators here. 

Their presence has damaged fragile native ecosystems and farms on the islands where they've become established. The alleged animal smugglers took the sheep to a Maui hunting ranch, and apparently didn't release them to the wild. Even so, the sheep's arrival on Maui for the first time deeply concerns conservationists who fear the animals could escape or give others the idea to bring over more.

According to the story, the ranch owner is also scheduled to appear in court this. He's charged with one misdemeanor count of selling wildlife – axis deer and mouflon sheep – without the proper permit. He also faces up to one year in prison.

 

Comments (6)

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from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Chad, the Huffington post is not exactly the most reliable source of info. out there, so what is it, were the sheep flown to Maui or from Maui? And with the Hawaiian islands in general, what is native fauna anyway?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jimbo808 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

RJ Arena - Hawaii has no native land mammals except a bat. Everything else was brought by humans (from 1,500 yrs ago to the very recent)

Mouflon sheep were flown from the Big Island to Maui in exchange for Axis deer. Mouflon sheep have devastated high elevation dry forests on Big Island, and Axis deer have devastated wet forests and agriculture crops on Maui. Both species (all ungulates, I think) were labelled as pests until the 1950s when the state gov't released a bunch of stuff to increase hunting opportunities after the war for recreation.

Seems like a fair trade? Seems awfully selfish to me.

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from Dan Lewis wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

All of the mammals on the Hawaiian Islands are non-native, with the exception, I think, of a native bat. Most have been major problems, particularly wild hogs, goats, and mongoose. Oddly the mongoose were imported to control the non-native rats, but the rats are nocturnal and the mongoose diurnal, so they almost never meet. I hope the guys involved here get the book thrown at them. Meanwhile, go hunt hogs on the Big Island!

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from Don Milosch wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I'm pretty sure most of hawaii's vegetation is non-native also. What is the standard for "native" anymore? It's been here since color tv?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Leilehua Yuen wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

We generally divide things into three main categories: Native (here before humans), Polynesian Introduction (brought by the early Polynesian settlers),Post-European contact (brought after 1778). Native species are divided between endemic (found nowhere else in the world) and indigenous (got here on its own and can be found in other places as well). We are trying to hold on to what little endemic/native ecosystem is left, but the deer will do their best to make short work of that. The deer also are a disaster for our farmers and ranchers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from slo45 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

WELL, MAYBE IF THE HAWAIIAN GOVN'T WOULD MAKE IT EASIER FOR OUT OF STATE RIFLE HUNTERS TO MAKE THE TRIP OVER AND HUNT WE COULD HELP OUT WITH THEIR PROBLEM.......

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from Don Milosch wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I'm pretty sure most of hawaii's vegetation is non-native also. What is the standard for "native" anymore? It's been here since color tv?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Chad, the Huffington post is not exactly the most reliable source of info. out there, so what is it, were the sheep flown to Maui or from Maui? And with the Hawaiian islands in general, what is native fauna anyway?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jimbo808 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

RJ Arena - Hawaii has no native land mammals except a bat. Everything else was brought by humans (from 1,500 yrs ago to the very recent)

Mouflon sheep were flown from the Big Island to Maui in exchange for Axis deer. Mouflon sheep have devastated high elevation dry forests on Big Island, and Axis deer have devastated wet forests and agriculture crops on Maui. Both species (all ungulates, I think) were labelled as pests until the 1950s when the state gov't released a bunch of stuff to increase hunting opportunities after the war for recreation.

Seems like a fair trade? Seems awfully selfish to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dan Lewis wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

All of the mammals on the Hawaiian Islands are non-native, with the exception, I think, of a native bat. Most have been major problems, particularly wild hogs, goats, and mongoose. Oddly the mongoose were imported to control the non-native rats, but the rats are nocturnal and the mongoose diurnal, so they almost never meet. I hope the guys involved here get the book thrown at them. Meanwhile, go hunt hogs on the Big Island!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Leilehua Yuen wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

We generally divide things into three main categories: Native (here before humans), Polynesian Introduction (brought by the early Polynesian settlers),Post-European contact (brought after 1778). Native species are divided between endemic (found nowhere else in the world) and indigenous (got here on its own and can be found in other places as well). We are trying to hold on to what little endemic/native ecosystem is left, but the deer will do their best to make short work of that. The deer also are a disaster for our farmers and ranchers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from slo45 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

WELL, MAYBE IF THE HAWAIIAN GOVN'T WOULD MAKE IT EASIER FOR OUT OF STATE RIFLE HUNTERS TO MAKE THE TRIP OVER AND HUNT WE COULD HELP OUT WITH THEIR PROBLEM.......

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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