DLNR vs Hawaii County: In Whose Interest?
by Tom Lodge
Earlier this week the State Attorney General, on behalf of the Department of Land and Natural Resourced (DLNR), sued the County of Hawaii for its ban on aerial hunting. Why are they trying to overturn a County ban that was enacted to force the State to pay attention to its own statutes? A statute applies to everyone as both Governor Elect Ige and Judge Aiona have affirmed publicly. §263-10 (No hunting from aircraft) applies to DLNR as it does to you and I.
In whose interest is it to have the State waste taxpayer money from both the County of Hawaii and Statewide, to go to court to have a Judge set aside DLNR’s obligation to abide by the law.
§263-10 Hunting from aircraft; penalty. Any aeronaut or passenger who, while in flight in, across or above the State, intentionally kills or attempts to kill any birds or animals shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
In whose interest is it for the DLNR to continue to want their way without public support? DLNR is still trying to do things the easy way; a Judge rather than dialog with community; a Judge rather than through Statute; A judge rather than through the processes of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
An EIS, for aerial hunting, was never prepared for Palila though the criteria for it is clearly present. The National Park Service made this comment on September 12, 1994, section 5.22 of the Parks Report to Congress regarding the 1987 Overflights law: “Whether or not a taking of a threatened or endangered species from Federal action occurs from overflights may be an area for additional research. It would be prudent for Federal agencies to take an active approach to evaluating this, rather than letting the decision lie with the courts.”
In whose interest was it for DLNR to disregard the need for environmental studies before they embark on putting up fences, overflights, aerial shooting and eradication? For DLNR “Happy Days” are here again because they have the FONSI, Finding Of No Significant Impact, an internal decision process to waive the need for public input.
The community acknowledges that there are areas in which aerial eradication is the most sensible way to achieve reduction in animal numbers. We’d like a seat at the table to assist in the management of our forest land including the use of helicopters, and yet still have DLNR rejects every opportunity to work with consumptive users toward sustainability or accommodate cultural and societal necessities.
In whose interest is it for DLNR to take over virtually all of our watersheds by declaring a crisis and placing them under Natural Areas Reserve System management without public hearings regarding environmental or cultural impacts and turning them into fenced paddocks with no benefits to society? There is no aloha in a fence -- only waste.
DOFAW Wildlife Biologist Jon Giffin who spent hundreds of hours in the field studying pigs, in the Ecology of the Pig found that unless forest areas are infested “Damage to the vegetation is often of a temporary nature, but can become serious in areas of high population density”. It should be noted that our typical rainforest can sustain 125 pigs per square mile, but an allowable density of 20 to 25 pigs per square mile “show only minor disturbances to vegetation and soil.” (Pages 116-118)
In whose interest would it be to have DLNR restructured in order to work towards the desires of society rather than for just for those that profit by their actions?
In whose interest would it be to have a Game Commission charged with providing access and opportunity to keep game animals at appropriate sustainable levels through utilization of a now long awaited Game Management Plan?