An upscale community in the outskirts of Honolulu, Hawaii, has developed a serious feral pig problem—and the residents are officially fed up. Earlier this month, a neighborhood board that governs the oceanside enclave of Aina Haina issued an edict to rid the area of its pig problem. If approved, the measure will attempt to quell the spread of Aina Haina’s destructive feral pig population by increasing access for local pig hunters.
Residents first reported feral pig sightings around Aina Haina in 2016. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, some members of the community started feeding kitchen scraps to the wild swine. The practice seemed to catch on, with people from other communities even driving to Aina Haina to feed the feral hogs. More pigs came down from the nearby mountains and made burrows in the hillsides, and the well-fed colonies multiplied.
“We need to get people to stop feeding the animals as it is causing other damage,” vice chair of the town board Steve Lipscomb told the Honolulu Civil Beat. “They think, ‘Oh, this poor animal needs my help,’ but they don’t consider the second and third-order effects. Their simple act of kindness is having an effect on other people that they don’t recognize.”
According to Lipscomb, those unintended effects include erosion of the landscape, contamination of drinking water, foul fecal droppings, and the sounds of bellowing, snorting, and squealing in the night. There are also potential safety threats associated with Aina Haina’s recent pig proliferation. A 2013 study found that while incidents of unprovoked feral pig attacks are rare, they can happen, especially when an animal is wounded or protecting its young.
Feral pigs, or pua’a, have resided on all the major islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago since wayfaring Polynesians introduced them in the fourth century AD. They have played an important role in local cultural traditions and remain an important food source for many Hawaiians.
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In rural Hawaii, feral pig hunting is common, but around Aina Haina, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife restricts hunting to weekends in only two areas where access is limited. So Lipscomb drafted a resolution to increase hunting times, ease hunting area access, and relax hunting restrictions. The resolution passed unanimously and will now be considered by municipal and state officials.