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April 22, 2009

Hawaii Urged to Stop Cruel Aerial Killing

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is urging the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, to immediately halt the aerial killing of feral cattle at Honua'ula Forest Reserve on the slopes of Hualalai. 

Last week, more than 150 cattle were shot by DLNR agents in helicopters using high-powered weapons, then left to die. The animals were not retrieved, so it is unknown how many were non-fatally wounded and may have suffered. The decomposing bodies may also pollute streams and other water sources within the Reserve.

The cattle killing comes after DLNR agents conducted multiple aerial shoots of sheep in Mauna Kea in January. Due to public outcry about the wanton waste of the kill, some of those carcasses were retrieved. The cost to taxpayers for the Mauna Kea kill was estimated at more than $10,000.

The killing occurred despite a resolution approved by the Hawaii County Council Committee on Public Safety and Parks and Recreation urging the state to immediately abandon plans to eradicate the cattle using helicopter hunts. The Committee approved the motion by an overwhelming 8-1 vote on April 7, more than a week before the aerial hunts took place.

Aerial hunting is illegal under state law. In 1971, Congress passed the Airborne Hunting Act banning the aerial hunting of wildlife; however, a loophole in the federal law allows state agencies to conduct aerial hunts for wildlife management purposes. Fencing coupled with herding, trapping and removal are more humane and effective methods for controlling feral cattle populations. In the past, local area ranchers who also opposed the aerial hunt have assisted with the herding and removal of hundreds of cattle from the area.  

"The aerial slaughter of animals is cruel, ineffective and irresponsible," said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS. "The Humane Society of the United States urges the Department of Land and Natural Resources to immediately halt any aerial hunts of cattle and to work with the County Council, the public and other concerned stakeholders to identify more humane solutions."

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting animal cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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