DLNR: Two Miles of Pu’u Maka’ala NAR Fencing Destroyed

June 23, 2015, 8:09 AM HST (Updated June 23, 2015, 8:09 AM)
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Vandals have cut and destroyed nearly two miles of ungulate proof fencing in the area around the Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve. The fencing was built in the early part of this decade, according to Department of Land and Natural Resources officials.

Cuts made through multiple sections of the fence, at five-to-ten meter intervals from top to bottom, were first observed during a routine inspection of the fencing by NAR staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Damage witnessed was reported to the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Officials have filed a first degree criminal property damage case. Individuals caught and convicted of vandalizing or destroying state property will face a class B felony with fines potentially reaching thousands of dollars and five-to-ten years in jail.

The main purpose of the fencing is to keep feral goats and invasive animals from destroying native plants. A DLNR spokesperson said Monday night that the recent vandalism is not the first time the fencing in two units within the NAR was vandalized.

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“Whatever point these vandals think they’re making, they need to realize that they and every other taxpayer in Hawai’i ultimately ends up paying for the replacement of this fencing,” said DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case. “Additionally, significant staff time will be spent to repair the damage, which could take several months and takes staff away from other scheduled projects and regular duties.”

Repair to the nearly two miles in fencing will cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Nich Agorastos, a NAR specialist. “This damage was done in one day and the cost estimate does not include the labor cost needed to remove ungulates that may have slipped through the damaged portions of fence.   It’s unfortunate that we all end up paying for someone else’s thoughtlessness and complete disregard for the purpose of ungulate fencing.”

Pu’u Maka’ala NAR is an important native forest that contains many sensitive natural resources. The fencing protecting the area, as well as the hundreds of miles of fencing statewide, provides protection to watersheds and native plants. Although the fencing is necessary, many of the state land areas continue to be opened at specified intervals to provide hunting and recreational access.

Anyone who has information regarding the crime is asked to call the DOCARE Hotline at 643-DLNR.

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