Park issues call for sheep hunters
By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawai'i Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is planning another lottery to select hunters to help eliminate mouflon sheep in the park's new 116,000-acre Kahuku addition.
Volunteer hunters in May and June killed 232 mouflon and two feral pigs, and the park plans to hold additional hunts every six months. The removal of mouflon and feral goats from the parklands will continue "indefinitely," parks officials said.
The National Park Service is required by law to control alien species on parklands if control is feasible and if the alien species interfere with natural processes, native species or natural habitats.
Mouflon, native to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia in the Mediterranean, were introduced to Kahuku Ranch in the 1960s for hunting. With no natural predators, the sheep thrived. Their grazing slows the regeneration of Hawai'i's endemic plants, which are defenseless against sheep, goats and other alien species. When the ungulates are removed, the plants rebound.
Hunters must register on or before Oct. 25 for the next lottery, which will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 8 at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano. Applicants do not have to attend the drawing to be eligible.
The hunters who are selected will be signed up as National Park Service volunteers and become eligible to accompany park staff in their efforts to control ungulates.
Volunteers must have completed a hunter safety course and be physically and mentally able to hike for at least eight hours over rough and rocky terrain in cold, wet weather. They are required to have a Hawai'i hunting license, a reliable four-wheel-drive vehicle, and a registered center fire rifle. Archery equipment, handguns and muzzleloaders will not be permitted.
The registration form and information can be downloaded from the park's Web site (www.nps.gov/havo). Forms also are available at Hawai'i Volcanoes' Kilauea Visitor Center, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Offices of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo and Waimea, Z Sports in Hilo, Paradise Archery & Leather Shop in Kea'au, Arrow Factory in Captain Cook, and Big Island hunting and shooting clubs.
The completed form must be received by the park by Oct. 25. The applications must include copies of the hunting license, hunter education certificate, and firearm registration for a center fire rifle.
"The goal of the program is to control alien ungulates within the park," said Tim Tunison, chief of resource management. "We realize it's going to take a long time.
"We look forward to the public joining in our animal control efforts."
Reach Kevin Dayton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 935-3916.