Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023|
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Facts and feelings
A front-page article in the Jan. 18 Tribune-Herald announced, “Aerial sheep hunting set for end of month.”
Translation: Any and all sheep seen on Maunakea will be pursued by helicopter and shot therefrom.
A separate article directly above that describes “a desperate effort to save a seabird species from rising ocean waters.”
Feathered animals good; furred animals bad?
As an old fossil from a bygone era when facts actually mattered, let’s take a look at some. In 1967, palila were listed as a federally protected (endangered) species.
In 1979, at the behest of several environmental organizations that claimed resident sheep were endangering palila, a federal court ordered they be removed from Maunakea. At that time, palila were estimated to number 7,000 birds. Sheep numbers were also in the thousands.
After 40 years of eradication efforts (22,538 animals removed from 1987 to 2016), current sheep populations now number around 100, according to the article.
And how about palila, which this costly eradication program is supposed to save? Their numbers have now declined to less than 300.
So in 1979, when sheep were in the thousands, palila numbered 7,000. In 2023, with sheep numbers around 100, palila are down to 300.
Mr. Eradicator: What’s wrong with this picture? Is it possible palila’s decline was never related to sheep?
And how about the resulting situation on the mountain itself? Where the grazing sheep once kept the forest understory cleared, it’s now an impassible firetrap, waiting only for an ignition source.
Ironically, while other fire-prone jurisdictions are paying to use grazing animals for forest fire fuel load suppression, Hawaii is marching hell-bent to kill off every last one of theirs.
But today it seems facts don’t matter as long as we feel good about it.
This is an open letter to new Hawaii County Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz.
Dear Chief Moszkowicz: Congratulations on your appointment, and welcome to the Big Island.
We would appreciate your help to begin enforcing the long-standing noise ordinance and the speed limit as posted in various spots along Kalanianaole Street.
Understandably, the road is a seaside attraction, constantly bringing Hilo residents and visitors to its attractive shores and swimming areas.
It is not a drag strip yet on a daily basis. But weekends in particular, many vehicles including trucks and SUVs with loud tires, motorcycles of every size and shape, and cars with customized mufflers all travel along the road without regard to safety and the peace and quiet of local residents and beach-area revelers.
Deliberately peeling rubber in school areas disturbs classes both with noise and smoke.
There have been a number of deaths along the road attributable to the reckless driving which goes ignored by law enforcement.
We respectfully ask that this be dealt with, and thank you for your attention.
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