Hawaiian Hunters Want To Help With Maui’s Overpopulation of Axis Deer

by Amy Myers
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Hawaii hunters are asking for access to axis deer. Throughout Maui County, the deer population is exploding, and local hunters are hoping that a new bill will allow them to keep the ecosystem balanced.

Within the lower 48 states, there are several regions that have major deer overpopulation problems. But for these areas, whitetail deer are the main issue. However, in Hawaii, residents are struggling to keep the axis deer, or chital deer, population under control.

In Hawaii, House Bill 1872 asks that the Department of Natural Resources recognizes that game animals can provide a food source.

“They’re going in there and killing large amounts of pigs, deer and sheep, and the food goes to waste. Oftentimes they’re doing it from a helicopter,” said Andrew Namiki Roberts, Hawaii Firearms Coalition Director.

But this isn’t what the Hawaiian natives and hunters wanted. In fact, they want to cut down on the wastefulness of the state’s actions. That includes their deer hunting efforts, too, no matter how many there are.

“The last thing we want to do is just shoot 300 or 400 deer and let the carcasses rot. To me personally, that’s wasteful,” said Molokai farmer Nathaniel Oswald.

According to Oswald, hunting is a “way of life” on Molokai. Even though there is an alarming number of deer in the state, that doesn’t mean they want an ounce of meat to go to waste.

“Even to a certain extent, it defines our people here,” Oswald shared. “Deer meat is a staple in our food source. I can’t overstate that enough. We have friends and family who eat deer meat sometimes every day and part of that is the high cost of imported food.”

With Oswald’s words in mind, it’s clear there are plenty of hunters that are more than interested in helping control the population of axis deer in Hawaii. The only problem is that there aren’t many places where they can take advantage of the local game meat.

According to these willing hunters, access is the only thing stopping them from helping keep the deer population under control.

“There’s no place legally to hunt right now,” Maui Hunter and Sportmen’s Club President Troy Helmer told Hawaii News Now.

Helmer created stickers that say, “Give us axis” to support the increased access to these deer.

“We have a lot of members, and we’re willing to go and help, but they got to give us access,” Helmer said.

HB1872 is an important step in the process as it opens up the conversation about managing Hawaii’s deer population by providing access to ethical, resourceful hunting.

Outsider.com