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Hawaii lawmakers introduce legislation to control feral pigs

February 1, 2020 GMT

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A pair of bills introduced in Hawaii would remove restrictions on wild pig hunting on the Big Island to control the feral pig population and protect local plant life.

The measures were introduced by multiple Hawaii Island senators and representatives on behalf of Mark Hanson, a Mountain View resident who says his sandalwood trees have been destroyed by uncontrolled feral pig populations scouring the mountain, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports.

Hanson is the founder of the Hawaiian Reforestation Program, an organization dedicated to planting native plants on public land, including sandalwood trees that are attractive to the animals, he said.

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The proposed legislation allows anyone with a valid hunting license to hunt for wild pigs on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano west of Hilo, officials said. The proposed bills would remove all bag limits and permit the use of dogs within an 18-mile (29-kilometer) area, officials said.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources currently allows hunters to take one pig each season and do not allow the use of dogs, wildlife officials said.

The pigs destroy plants, eat bird eggs and dig through soil rendering it infertile, but hunters have no incentive to manage pigs near Mauna Kea, Hanson said.

“Nobody goes to the mountain to hunt pigs,” he said. “If they want to hunt pigs, they can just go to their backyards.”