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Bye, Bye, Bambi

May 16, 2012, 4:42 PM HST
* Updated May 16, 4:54 PM
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They’re lean and agile, and they want to eat your produce.

If you’re thinking of vegan Yoga instructors, snap out of it. This is serious stuff. A four legged invasion is about to begin, and we all need to be on lookout for the enemy. In fact, their scouts have already arrived.

Currently running rampant on Maui, the ominously named “Axis” deer have now been confirmed to have set hooves on the Big Island. Whether or not their name bears any relation to the aggressors of World War 2, these creatures display their own sort of feral fascism, wiping out the habitats of native species and ravaging crops to fuel their own expansion.

With a resistance to drought and ability to replenish their ranks through a year round mating cycle, this Mussolini of mammals must be stopped.

Sworn enemies could of course be enlisted. Lions, tigers, leopards and crocodiles are all natural predators from the deer’s original homeland. But short of spicing up the Ironman Triathlon, recreating Nepal’s natural population controls wouldn’t be good for business.

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Unfortunately, these deer aren’t only invasive. They’re amorous. Populations on Maui have grown six fold over the last 10 years, with over twelve thousand now estimated to be prancing around the Valley Isle, wreaking havoc on native ecosystems.

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Gentle solutions seem lacking, and given that mammals have a low suicide rate, it’s safe to say these deer won’t be shooting themselves.

We need heroes.

State and federal agencies have been slow to respond to the threat, but the Big Island Invasive Species Committee has hired two sharpshooters to assist in eradicating the menace before it gets out of control.

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The first confirmed kill of an Axis deer on the Big Island occurred in April, thanks to the BIISC hunters. Unfortunately, protecting such a large island from these creatures is a big task. Although the deer’s population is estimated to be as small as a few dozen, it will take many watchful eyes to ensure the threat is eliminated.

Ranchers, farmers and hunters should be in close contact, and landowners should eliminate the creatures if they are able, though any sighting should be reported to the BIISC immediately.

Should you kill a deer or happen upon a stricken animal, resist the urge to show off your skills in Venison cookery. Carcasses should be reported, and tested for illness. Disease can pass from deer to human through consumption of the animal.

Fence-crossing vigilantes aren’t encouraged. If you see a deer, be sure to be in touch with landowners before scaling a boundary.

Big Islanders shouldn’t wait for state or federal help to confront this problem, as these deer won’t call a time-out during grant applications. Keep your eyes open, and sound the alarm if you spot them.

We can win this one.

If you see a suspected Axis Deer, phone 443-4036.

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