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Feral Pigs

Wild boar

The Hawaiian Islands are 2400 miles away from North America, 2400 miles from the Marquesas Islands and 3800 miles from Japan.  That makes Hawaii the most isolated land in the world.  Because of it's isolation, Hawaii has an amazing variety of plants and animals that exist nowhere else.  Unfortunately, many of Hawaii's native species are extinct or facing extinction.

The problem began with, not surprisingly, the arrival of humans.  Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas brought non-native plants and animals with them.  They also hunted many of the native species.  But the extinction issue didn't get really carried away until, again no big surprise, the Europeans arrived.  The Polynesians brought pigs with them but it's the large European pigs that readily turned feral and started destroying the habitat in a big way.

"Pigs are the biggest animal bane Hawaii's flora has ever had to stand."
- Germain Mesureur

"feral pigs are now causing the most destruction to remaining native ecosystems"
- USGS

What are the federal and state governments doing about the problem?  Still no surprise... nothing!  The Hawaiian Humane Society believes hunting for sport is "contrary to the values of a humane, aware and caring society" and should be banned.  Luckily, the Humane Society doesn't make the rules.  If it weren't for hunting, the pig problem would be even worse than it currently is.  Even the Sierra Club supports pig hunting.  You know the pig problem is bad if the Sierra Club supports hunting.  Almost everybody that has studied the problem agrees that hunting is the most economically viable and effective control method.

Pig Damage The official limit in our area is 2 feral pigs, 1 feral goat and 1 feral sheep per hunter per day.  The unofficial limit is that nobody but us locals go on our private land, nobody wants the pigs here anyways, and you'd be lucky if you managed to get two pigs in one day.  As long as the hunting dogs are kept under control and all firearms are used safely, nobody will complain.

In addition to destroying the natural habitat, the pigs eat my macadamia nuts.  If not controlled, that could cost me significant money.  That's why we have an electric fence.  An electric fence is considered a psychological barrier.  If a pig is scared or being chased, an electric fence won't slow it down at all.  If the pig is just walking around casually looking for food when it encounters the fence then the fence wins.  Only not-so-bright coffee farmers are naive enough to touch the fence multiple times.

Broken Fence Getting tired of hitting the fence by accident, I decided to turn it off for a couple months until the macadamia nuts started to ripen.  At first, we didn't have any problems.  We could hear the pigs foraging around at night but they didn't cause any real damage.  Then the pigs started coming into the coffee orchards and digging up the ground.  They had broken through the electric fence at several places.  I decided it was time to repair the fence and turn it back on.

It worked like a charm, no more pigs.  At least no more pigs down in our front fields.  The back field isn't completely fenced and it connects to acres of cattle ranch which connects to a forest preserve which covers most of the mountain.  There were still plenty of pigs in the area.

You may remember me mentioning one of my neighbors in an earlier post.  His name is Justin and he has stopped by several times looking for pigs.  A lot of his family's meat comes from the pigs he hunts.  He's a very nice guy and has offered to take me hunting with him.  So far, I've always been busy.

If you don't like the idea of hunting pigs, or would prefer to not read about (or see or hear) any of the details, then maybe you should skip the next post.  Check back next week and you can read about a beautiful wedding.

If you don't mind the sight of pig blood, click here.



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