- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - An amended bill that would require Hawaii to make reasonable efforts to protect hunting grounds is making its way through the state Legislature.

Originally, the bill (HB 1902) would have required the Department of Land and Natural Resources to replace hunting grounds that are lost to conservation or other efforts. Hunters widely supported the measure. But William Aila, the department’s chairman, told lawmakers that would be impractical.

The bill, which will come before the Senate Committee on Water and Land on Monday, also establishes a statewide hunting commission and compels the Department of Land and Natural Resources to report to the legislature on public hunting lands.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1eB7KgB) that the department has been at odds with hunters over conservation, especially on the Big Island, where a quarter of the land is available for public hunting.

The department wants to fence off sensitive areas to protect plants and soil from animals such as pigs and deer. Hunters feel those efforts don’t account for their needs.

Lisa Hadway, the head of the department’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said at a meeting of the Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Committee last month that the department has fenced 1.4 percent of public hunting lands on the Big Island. Eventually, that will increase to 22.2 percent under the department’s plans.

Rep. Cindy Evans, a Democrat representing North Kona and North Kohala, introduced the bill. She told the newspaper that she does not want to see a net loss in hunting lands.

Hunters “are out there managing the populations . they are your eyes and ears” in the forest, Evans said.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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