Wednesday, March 4, 2009


FIDO AND FUDD’S REVENGE: While many worry about bringing home the bacon, on Kaua`i the bacon is just strolling uninvited right up to many homes, at least in Kapa`a and especially in the Kapahi area.

A decade and more ago a pig sighting was an occasional occurrence at lower elevations usually after a heavy rainfall period.

But ask any area resident and you’ll probably hear tales of a virtual invasion recently that has resulted in various auto accidents and an invasion of wild pigs, tearing up yards, knocking over trash cans and marching right up to houses looking for a free meal.

In one incident a week ago a Kapa`a Homesteads woman sustained major front end damage to her brand new Prius when a pig darted out from the Bette Midler property right on the Kapa`a bypass road. She was told by police responding that there’s been an explosion of similar incidents recently.

Other residents report that they are seeing wild pigs on roads not just in upper residential areas but in town and many report that they brazenly wander around neighborhoods in broad daylight.

One couple we know who moved here recently from the Big Island called in a panic just yesterday asking if we knew what to do about the pig that was making itself at home in their yard.

So what’s the scoop?- how has this happened?

We spoke to one long-time Kapahi farmer who tried to explain it, although he declined to have his name mentioned.

He told us some of it can be traced back to a release of 500 pigs about five years ago in the mauka Kealia area which was done in order to increase hunting opportunities in lower elevations after the developers in the area cut off access to the prime hunting areas up past Waipahe Slippery slide.

Though they were released in a pasture by the lessee they didn’t stay there for long. Though he can’t confirm it our farmer thinks it might have been done to enable the developers of the Kealia Mauka operation to offer hunting vacation packages to tourists.

He said other hunters also have taken to releasing cross-bred pigs, half wild boar, half domesticated hog.. This breeds not just a meatier animal but a tamer one that doesn’t put up the kind of fight a pure-bred wild boar will but still retains the flavor of the wild breed

The Kapahi farmer says that many in residential neighborhoods residents have taken to even feeding the pigs, leaving out scraps and then, when they get properly fattened and tame, simply taking advantage of a daily visit to make for an easy dinner for the family table.

The invasion comes in the wake of a 10 or 15 year invasion of another kind- the gentleman farmers who buy up huge tracts of mauka agricultural land for house sites and then close off once open vehicular access to the mountains where hunters previously were the only predator wild pigs faced.

Hunters and hikers alike tell us that even foot traffic has been fenced off in most places they used to go with “no trespassing” signs in may areas, especially on former sugar cane lands. The only legal access left is by traveling up miles of river beds to get to those areas where pig hunting was once prevalent.

From what we’ve been able to piece together that leads to a situation where not only does it prohibitively take all day just to walk to areas that were preciously accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles – some even by cars and truck- but to cart out the meat has become an ordeal no hunter but the most intrepid can or will endure.

So as the wild pig population went unchecked in the mountains, over the years they spread down to the makai areas. That, combined with the releases and cross-breeding has made for a dangerous situation of turning the more populated lowlands into hunting areas, even adjacent to or in residential areas.

According to some of our hunting friends there are also a lot less hunters than there used to be. As development has swept the island many factor have contributed.

First of all mainland transplants generally don’t go hunting.

But even among local families the tradition of taking a family hunting for a weekend has gone from being a necessity to put food on the table to becoming an economic impossibility as twin-breadwinner families have to do multiple shift work, especially in the tourism/service sector, where weekends and weekdays are indistinguishable from each other.

The wild boar is recognized by invasive species experts as the most destructive of all elements to native forests and uplands. Recently work has begun on a test plot deep in the Alakai Swamp where they hope to establish a pig free area by fencing it off and ridding it of pigs.

Hunters continue to battle with wildlife authorizes to make sure that there will still be enough pigs left to hunt as the native plant species protection and preservation movement spreads to protect the area from being dug up and eroded by pigs and to a lesser extent- and only in certain areas- goats and even deer.

But the trepidation at the prospect of some day having no more pigs to hunt might be overstated. With the diminishing numbers of hunters and walking pork chops wandering around residential neighborhoods, worrying about sustaining the pig population seems a bit of a stretch.

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