Anatomy of an eradication effort: Removing Hawaii's illegally introduced axis deer

The Wildlife Professional
By: , and 

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Abstract

In February 2011, a rancher in the rural southern part of Hawaii Island reported a large mammal on her land. Her call mobilized several agencies led by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), a partnership to prevent, detect, and control the establishment and spread of invasive species, to sit up and take notice. Agency biologists installed camera traps to identify the animal, and a few months later verified the diagnostic field marks of a chervid with spots. The animal in questions was a chital, or axis deer (Axis axis)--a species native to tropical and subtropical India. Although the deer are abundant on the islands of Molokai, Lānai, and Maui, officials knew they weren't capable of swimming across the notoriously treacherous ʻAlenuihāhā channel, and subsequently suspected human intervention.

Soon after the rancher's report, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched an investigation, which revealed that in December 2009, a helicopter pilot and rancher from Maui had covertly transported four deer in exchange for about a dozen European mouflon sheep (Ovis gmelini musimon) (Tummons 2011a, b)--a species also valued for trophies and meat. Because neither species was established in the wild on either of the islands, in June 2012, state lawmakers responded by specifically banning "the international possession or interisland transportation or release of wild or feral deer" (Honolulu Star-Advertiser 2012). The two individuals were prosecuted under the Lacey Act for transporting wildlife between islands with the intent to guide hunting for out-of-state residents (Stephens Media 2012), while the individual who provided the mouflon was sentenced to community service. Further, the helicopter pilot agreed to provide 500 hours of flight time to locate and eradicate the Hawaii Island deer population in restitution.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Anatomy of an eradication effort: Removing Hawaii's illegally introduced axis deer
Series title The Wildlife Professional
Volume 9
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 4 p.
First page 26
Last page 29
Country United States
State Hawai'i
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N