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Big Island rep introduces package of hunting legislation


HONOLULU — A Hawaii House member from the Big Island is introducing five bills designed to keep hunting lands intact and promote the culture of hunting to children and others.

Rep. Cindy Evans, North Kona and Kohala, said Friday that hunters should be recognized as conservationists who care about the land and wildlife.

“Here in Hawaii, hunting is part of our culture, particularly in rural neighborhoods,” Evans told reporters at a news conference.

Evans said hunters in the state approached her and wanted a voice on issues concerning state lands.

“They don’t want to be forgotten — they really want to be a big part of the discussion,” Evans said.

Relationships between hunters and state officials have been strained in recent years because of land access issues and invasive game populations, including axis deer on Maui and the Big Island. Land officials have pushed to eradicate the deer because it has no natural predators, but some hunters say they should be allowed to hunt the deer to feed their families.

One bill would require the Department of Land and Natural Resources to not reduce the total acreage of hunting lands available after Dec. 1. If it does close certain areas, the state would have to make comparable land with comparable hunting opportunities available in another area.

“They’re the ones that walk the land, they’re the ones that see what’s going on,” Evans said. “They really are at the forefront of protecting our habitat and protecting what we have in Hawaii.”

The other bills would allow children to obtain permits to hunt with their parents, declare September “Outdoor Heritage Month” and allow some veterans access to a lifetime hunting license. A fifth bill would allow Hawaii to enter a compact with any other state to share information on hunting enforcement.