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DLNR requests $4M to keep ungulates away from ʻōhiʻa trees

National Park Service

The fungus known as rapid ʻōhiʻa death (ROD) has killed over 1 million trees since it was first reported in 2013.

A correlation between ROD and ungulates such as boar and deer was discovered last year. Ungulates, or hooved animals, create open wounds in a tree — leaving it vulnerable to pathogens.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife is asking for an additional $4 million in funding for FY2023 to protect native Hawaiian trees.

Emma Yuen with the DOFAW says fencing the trees away from hooved animals has been successful, but they need more support.

"We’ve seen between two to 69 times higher infection rates in areas that are unfenced, versus right next door where they’ve been protected," she said.

"This is an amazing solution that’s right at our fingertips to protect these forests from rapid ʻōhiʻa death. You can just see right now, only 6% of Hawaiʻi Island is actually ungulate-free and fenced," Yuen told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

The additional funding would go to support DLNR jobs involved with fence construction to protect ʻōhiʻa trees.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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