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DLNR closing Mauna Kea Forest Reserve to protect palila

MEDIA RELEASE

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will close the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve on June 2 and 3 to conduct animal control activities, specifically aerial shooting from helicopters of feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids. 

These grazing ungulates reduce the density and productivity of mamane trees in the primary habitat of the endemic Palila, a finch-billed Hawaiian honeycreeper, and cause soil erosion and degraded habitat.

“We are required to comply with a federal court order to conduct aerial shooting to remove sheep and goats from the critical habitat of the Palila, an endangered endemic forest bird of Hawaii which relies on mamane seeds, flowers, buds, and leaves for 90 percent of its diet,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairwoman. “The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers to people in the forest area, and safely allow completion of the animal control activities.”

For public safety reasons, DLNR will restrict public access to the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road during these dates. Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office. The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open.

To implement the closure, gates at the Kilohana Hunter Checking Station and the Hale Pohaku entrance to Unit A will be locked at 7 p.m. Monday, June 1.

Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the public for salvage at the following locations (4-wheel drive vehicle required).

Access for salvage will be allowed BY PERMIT ONLY, from 7 a.m. June 2 until 7 p.m. June 3 as follows:

1) On June 2 at Ahumoa. Public must meet at the Kilohana Checking Station at 7 a.m. sharp.

2) On June 2 at Puu Koohi. Public must meet at the Mauna Kea State Park at 7 a.m. sharp.

3) On June 3 at Kaluamakani. Public must meet at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Hall in Waimea at 6:30 a.m. sharp. Due to private property access, there will be a limit of 10 vehicles.

For more information interested persons may contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii branch office at 974-4221.

For information about the Palila go to the website of the DOFAW Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) at www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/cwc…

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