The city of Kaneohe, Hawaii may soon be joining forces with a local sportsmen’s association to deal with its pesky feral hog problem. The swine are causing havoc in the nearby 400-acre Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, a piece of land valuable not only for its value as a collection of rare and endangered plants, but also as flood protection for the city. While Hoomaluhia is still a popular fishing spot and campground, visitors have voiced increasing concerns over encounters with the feral pigs.
The unruly animals are now a common sight on the island of Oahu, and residents can expect to run into the animals with worrying regularity. Large pig populations can be very destructive due to their rooting habits. In addition to the hogs’ detrimental effect on native plants and animals, they can also damage vulnerable watersheds and even invade residential yards. As urban development on the island expands into rural areas, more people are finding themselves exposed to the island’s increasing number of pigs.
Nowhere is this more visible than Hoomaluhia, where the hogs are causing visible damage to the garden’s painstakingly manicured grounds. According to KITV, the area’s pig population was previously managed by the US Department of Agriculture. In the last seven years professional trappers captured and killed about 232 feral hogs, but at a exorbitant price. The city of Kaneohe was reported to have paid over $357,000 for Hoomaluhia’s pig management program.
“I think it’s a waste of money,” said Ollie Lunasco, president of the Pig Hunters Association of Oahu. “If you need it done, just call us—we do it free.”
Lunasco suggested allowing 15 of the association’s members inside Hoomaluhia to capture pigs using box traps. The association is no stranger to pig removal operations. Members can usually be found assisting the state’s wildlife agency or local police by removing the destructive animals from private homes and golf courses. Lunasco also advocated for more liberal wild pig hunting laws in Oahu.
Kaneohe city officials are now working on a memorandum of agreement that would allow trappers inside Hoomaluhia. The agreement is expected to be finalized next week.