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Here's how the state is trying to manage wild goats on Hawaiʻi Island

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Catherine Cruz

The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources estimates there are 2,000 wild goats across 100,000 acres on Hawaiʻi Island.

Kanalu Sproat works with the department’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, which is doing what it can to maintain the animal’s exploding population.

He says they are able to remove about 500 goats a year with the hunting and trapping programs they have in place on state lands.

But across private and federal lands where the state doesn’t have jurisdiction, he says the population has shot up.

"They're all over the place. And especially, like I said, outside of the places where we have our hunting there's not a lot of programmatic actions taking place to do anything," he told HPR.

"I do know, I have been in contact with some of the hotels and Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust where they've contracted to choppers, and they've done some removal," Sproat said. "It's helped a little but it's not been enough. We don't have the resources to do anything like that."

Sproat says the goats trapped on state lands are distributed to interested individuals who keep some for their yards and ship the rest to Oʻahu for sale.

Last year, the National Park Service announced plans for a lottery to try and get rid of an estimated 700 goats that were roaming the City of Refuge at Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. The animals were eventually trapped and close to 500 were given away to hunters or those using them for food.

This interview aired on The Conversation on July 29, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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