By ERIN MILLER
When a Big Island hunter and a rancher and pilot from Maui brought axis deer to Hawaii Island in 2009, the state had no law that would have prohibited them from doing so.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is working to close that loophole and spell out more protections for endangered and threatened species across the island chain with proposed changes to the Hawaii Administrative Rules. DLNR will hold a hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Hilo, at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Conference room, and 6 p.m. March 28 at the West Hawaii Civic Center’s Community Meeting Hale in Building G.
The proposed changes to Chapter 124, Indigenous Wildlife, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Introduced Wild Birds, spells out rules meant to prohibit and deter transporting and releasing introduced wildlife.
“It does, in part, relate to axis deer,” DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said Wednesday. “It should apply for other species we wouldn’t want to move between the islands.”
DLNR officials say introduced species can impact ecosystems and economy.
The rule changes also broaden the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ authority.
“When species of introduced wildlife or injurious wildlife are found to be generally harmful or destructive to agriculture or aquaculture, native plants or wildlife, or constituting a threat to human health or safety, the board or its authorized representative may authorize the destruction or control of the species in any area for a specified time period without requiring permits or reports,” the proposed rules said.
Other changes include:
l Adding a definition for “introduce,” which means “the act of releasing wildlife into a habitat in which it is not indigenous”;
l Deleting the phrase “and living in a wild and undomesticated state” for the phrase “introduced wildlife”;
l Defining “release” as freeing “an animal from an effective confinement or state”;
l Adding transporting and releasing an injurious wildlife to the list of prohibited activities;
l Making violating the rules a petty misdemeanor, with the fine for a first conviction at least $100, for a second conviction at least $500 and for a third and any subsequent violations a fine of at least $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail. For second and later violations, the state may also seize firearms used during the violation;
l Adding civil fines, starting at $10,000 and going up to $25,000 per violation, and authorizing the board to seize equipment, articles, instruments, aircraft, vehicles, vessels or business records used to commit the violation.
The public may submit written testimony by April 19 by mailing comments to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813, Attn: Lauren Goodmiller.
Email Erin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.