Feral pig hunting on private property is decimating land and ecology in Hawaii

| July 29, 2013
Sign that reads: No hunting, don't ask

Hunters are required to ask owners for permission before hunting on their private property. View this sign here.

Marauding wild pigs used to roam the hills of Hawaii, trampling gardens and digging out muddy wallows on the private property of the islands’ residents. Fast forward a half dozen years, and the perpetrators trampling private property are now human hunters.

Feral pigs aren’t endemic to the islands of Hawaii. They are descendants of domesticated, pink industrial pigs. Some of these pigs escaped the slaughter, gave birth to feral offspring that multiplied prolifically, filling the hillsides. Once an animal without a place in the living and dying of the island’s closed ecosystem digs its hooves into the land, they are hard to get rid of. They snort, dig and feed on whatever they please, and they don’t have a natural predator to put them in their place on the food chain. Through their scat, they help spread the seeds of invasive plant species. Their wallows are breeding grounds for mosquitoes that spread genocidal avian flu among the native birds. Nearly everything about feral pigs are unwelcome — except of course, their delicious roasted flesh.

Enter humans, who, given the right permit, are legally pig hunting on private property. The various local governments of the Hawaiian islands declared open hunting season on wild pigs to help correct the islands’ porcine imbalance. Entire companies sprouted up specializing in wild boar hunting safaris on the islands, as well as a cottage industry of tips on hunting wild boar. (Example: hunting with dogs and knives is a bad idea, “The chaos that would ensue as your pack of killers chased a pig through your neighborhood could easily dwarf any problems the pig alone caused.”)

A pig crossing sign.

An image for pigs crossing could be handy for residential areas — if they were keen on keeping their neighborhood pigs safe. Available at RoadTrafficSigns.com.

Unfortunately, hunters, not known for being the daintiest of people, have taken the place of the pigs they killed in being a nuisance to property owners. In Hawaii, feral pig hunting is done with dogs and knives. It is a messy affair. Not only do the pigs, humans and dogs stomp through land, the final kill will not be easy on your lettuce garden.

The dogs sniff out the smart pigs, eventually, perhaps after hours of chase, pinning down the boar. The hunter then steps in with a serrated hunting knife, and while desperately trying to avoid getting gored by the boar’s tusk as it struggles for its life, the hunter slits the beast’s throat and drains the blood. In a crowded island like Hilo in Hawaii, this, or any other part of the hunt, could take place on your peony patch, or on a newly sown field of sweet potatoes.

Irate property owners, who have seen an increase in destructive pig hunting in the last few years, are starting to push back on hunters who ruin agricultural and residential properties alike while high on the entitlement that they are doing the island’s ecology a favor.

A picture of a hunter with a feral pig on his back.

A hunter loads a dead feral pig on his back in Kauai, Hawaii. Photo by a4gpa.

“People seem to feel that they have a right to come walking through your property looking for pigs whenever they want. To begin with, they don’t have that right,” said Bill Walter, the largest land owner on Puna Island, to the Hawaii Herald-Tribune.

Pig hunters, no matter how righteous their cause, still have to abide by hunting rules stating that to go hunting on private property, they need the permission of the owner. Hopefully this age-old courtesy, or seeking permission before hunting will make it so the cure isn’t worse than the problem.

Category: Guard Dog Animals, Property

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