Mauna Kea Eradication

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Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  bigislandhunter on Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:00 am

Heres a petition I would like you too look over and sign if you feel like it is a good idea. Ill give you a little run down.


For those of you who are Not from the big island.For 30 some odd years the State has been eradicating mouflon sheep on Mauna Kea. The reason for the eradication is to get the endangered species (palila bird) numbers back up! Before the eradication there was about 5,000 sheep, maybe more. But there were close to 6,000 birds. To this day, we have approximately 300 sheep left, and less than 300 palila birds left. I do not want to see this bird go extinct and I do not want to see our mouflon sheep go extinct. I truly believe that if the numbers of sheep go up, the palila population will go up!

From the Petition:

..... Dead sheep rot on the slopes of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, as one of the remaining families of wild sheep runs frantically from a helicopter armed with government paid eradicators shooting at them with assault weapons, all for the alleged purpose of trying to save the finch-like endangered palila bird from extinction.....

Read it, Sign it, Pass it on!

*****not sure if this goes here...but if it needs to be removed or changed thats ok.

Here is the link.

http://www.change.org/petitions/call-for-moratorium-on-hawaiis-wild-sheep-eradication
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Sheep Eradication

Post  Koa Boa on Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:49 am

This has been a sad story from the start too bad that common sense aint so common to these Clowns clown clown clown clown
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  Nic Barca on Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:18 am

I finally delved into this and found that the forest was dying. Mamane and other trees/vegetation were dieing of old age with few surviving to replace them (something common in overgrazed forests). The palila are concentrated on the most intact tract of forest left. They did small enclosure tests in the 70s to prove the effects of sheep on the vegetation. Mamane seedlings rebounded quickly within the test plots, but even so, it would take an estimated 30 years before the trees were of size where the mamane would benefit palila. OR if sheep are not removed completely the following might happen: at some point, as sheep populations are reduced, more vegetation will survive than sheep can supress. And as vegetation rebounds, the land can again support more sheep without as much risk of overbrowsing of mamane.

So i recently asked someone with experience in big island conservation if the vegetation seems to be rebounding after 30 years of sheep culling. She seemed to believe it wasn't and that the few sheep that are left are still supressing any recovery, however, I don't consider her to be a reliable source. If this were the case, then what a waste of time, energy, and resources. But it could had been worse... She also seemed to be under the belief that getting all sheep out was the only way to get mamane to rebound and I don't think she understood what i was asking (a means to have sheep, forest, and palila).

From what I hear, they have funding for more fences that will help get the last of the sheep. I keep up the hope that once vegetation rebounds, it will not be as important to get every last sheep and a network of huts and hunting trails will accomplish most conservation goals. But that may be decades down the road... In the mean time, seems the eradicationists are getting their way and much support from the public, with the clear exception of most hunters. I do however look forward to the days when mauna kea silverswords are once again the dominant vegetation above the treeline, when sheep are fat from the improved food sources, and the forest is in better health and more resilient.

Just one man's view.
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  bigislandhunter on Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:19 pm

Great point! Never thought of or heard of that point of view before.

What I have found in my research/hunting up there, is that sheep only like young mamane. They eat everything on the tree, even the bark itself. On the older mamane, they pretty much dont touch it. The palila needs the seeds of the mamane and Caterpillars for there young. Without ample amount of food the "scientist" said they will not breed.

On another note, I compared the records of the past 20 some odd years and seems as if the palila does best with approx 1,000 sheep on the mountain. Thats when the numbers of the palila were at its highest. Maybe something to deal with carrying capacity? who knows?

Now going back to your point Nic. If they birds are now only concentrated in a certain area on the mountain why do they shoot ALL the sheep? And why do they waste money to fence the WHOLE mountain? why not fence the "critical habitat" and shoot all the sheep in there? wouldnt that make more sense? Not calling you out, just a thought that came up. The questions are/were geared to the so called "scientists".

Happy hunting!
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  Nic Barca on Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:09 pm

In most cases, yes, that would have made more sense to fence off just the best. But I think they believed that doing a small area of the best forest wouldn't be enough to save the palila because they move to different altitudes to feed on Mamane seed at different times of year. The trees appearently fruit at different altitudes at different times. Also a small population is much more vulnerable to extinction. Palila number rise and fall due to a variety of factors that I don't fully understand. I understand some... Drought, predation, etc and like you said, if less food, less breeding.

Here's one of the reports I read:
Restoring critical habitat of Palila by reducing ungulate populations

The bark stripping is a bad sign, being that bark is not a good food source, the most palateable plants probably are overbrowsed making them uncommon. And without recruitment, the long term projection of the forest is not good. Old trees eventually die.

I'm still looking forward to the days decades away when they will question whether the forest needs a new fence, or whether it is resilient enough to cope with lower sheep numbers that are kept in check by public hunting. New fences cost millions of dollars to replace but trails and hut infrastructure may only costs, for example, a tenth as much. And the demand will certainly always be there from hunters. Perhaps they can try it first as a pilot program in one of the fenced units (there will likely be several). But one thing seems sure to me: the forest needed a break to recover.


Last edited by Nic Barca on Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:24 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : changed "needs" to "needed". Other scientific studies suggest vegetation has recovered greatly over the past 30 years.)
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  Nic Barca on Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:30 pm

If you think that palila populations declined because sheep declined, I'd like to hear your theory.

I can think of one reason that could help cause decline: scat acted as a spong holding moisture, and as they decomposed after culling, the forest may have lost some moisture holding capacity and been more vulnerable to drought. I thought I seen that initially in Na'pali coast after 95% culling and record rainfall in 2006 but even so, recent years of wet weather allowed vegetation to recover, and now that vegetation is increasing water holding capacity by increasing oranic matter in the soil. There still is scat, albeit maybe 5% of what there once was 10 years ago.
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  bigislandhunter on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:25 am

Nice I never did hear of the Mamane tree fruiting at different times of the year. I have only personally seen palila in certain areas year round. Never seen them move around.

I guess for my theory...if you can call it that...hahah! I have noticed that palila actually like the sheep. You take a look at the places that have the most highly concentrated numbers of palilas and you can see that it is sheep country. On that mountain, if you hunt there long and hard you will notice if you can find the palila, you will find the sheep. According to some past study (cant find it) with the 1000 sheep or what ever the palia did great...maybe it was because of the number of sheep? maybe because of the number of eradications they did? who knows. In like the early 2000's the sheep population would go down and the palila would actually go up. Then they hit that number and then the palila population dropped. I thinks it really has to deal with the carrying capacity of the area. Some reason, maybe the palila need the sheep? I am no scientist nor am I trying to be one. I just hunt a lot up there and that was what my experiences had told me. From what I have experienced...by eradicating all the sheep, the palia will go extinct. I am not saying stop all the eradication but try find that right number, everything in nature has a balance we just gotta find it.

Thanks for the insightful information!
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  bigislandhunter on Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:28 am

Also, you figure with all of the eradications, you would think that that would cause the palila to be stressed and not breed? IDK man, just juggling thoughts in my mind.

Truthfully, I dont think it is worth it to save this bird. 90% of hawaii's population dont know of the bird, of that 10% that does 7% dont give a rats A$$ about it. hahahaha, kind of harsh but thats true. We are wasting so much money on it, when more could be used for schooling and other things.
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  Nic Barca on Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:11 am

bigislandhunter wrote:Nice I never did hear of the Mamane tree fruiting at different times of the year. I have only personally seen palila in certain areas year round. Never seen them move around.

...I might have been misinformed on that. Embarassed Thought I read it but now I'm not so sure.

Heres the more recent recovery plant with a lot more up to date info. Its a bit long and even I had a hard time understanding the jargon.
2006? Palila Recovery Plan
You might find that they do not expect to increase palila across the board, but will focus on the population centers where there is prime Mamane forest. It seemed like they would not spread into the Mamane-Naio forests because there were more rats associated with naio and they couldn't breed successfully. Check out the map of remaining populations. You might notice a loophole.

Sheep and palila being concentrated around each other makes sense and might have to do with them both liking mamane forests for food. Kinda like how pigs like the koa kipukas.
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Re: Mauna Kea Eradication

Post  bigislandhunter on Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:18 am

Nic Barca wrote:
...I might have been misinformed on that. Embarassed Thought I read it but now I'm not so sure.

Nah man no sweat. Thanks for all the insightful information. Cool to see a view point of another Hunter from a different island.

Very interesting site. Ive never seen Palila in most of the areas that are marked! haha. Well with time I guess we will have to see what happens.

Good luck on future hunts!

Alohas
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