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Axis Deer Ravage Hawaiian Islands
Did you know that there is no native land mammals in Hawaii except for your friendly bat? Did you know that leopards and tigers keep Axis (Chital) deer populations down in India? Have you ever wondered how deer made their way to Hawaii?
Intriguing questions, but they all have to do with the subject title because large herds of Axis deer, a cute as they are, are eating the Hawaiian shrubs and trees at a ravaging rate. They eat all they time and specifically like the avocado farms and vineyards. Unlike in their native land, India, these Hawaiian Chital\Axis deer have no predators like the tiger or leopard, thus, their once meager numbers have turned into herds roaming the lush vegetation.
The deer numbers (12,000 on Maui) have come a long way since 1868 when the first deer arrived by boat as a gift to King Kamehameha , the ruler of the Hawaiian Islands. The deer arrived via Hong Kong and quickly settled as pets on Molokai and Oahu Islands. They flourished there but it was not until WW2 that some of the deer were taken to Maui to introduce mammals to different locations and to increase hunting opportunities for servicemen. Some were ferried to the big island, Hawaii and Lanai in 1920. They are cute with their "mickey-mouose" ears.
But, now the herds are large and have become like a lawn mower. In Maui, the deer have cost $1,000,000 in damage in just two years. Locals spend much of their time trying to eradicate them. On the big island, they are now hunted for fresh meat. The deer population in Hawaii grows like a weed per year, 20-30%, so it is like dealing with weeds-they keep coming. Ranchers and farmers have already expressed their concerns that the deer have been illicitly introduced on the Big Island would destroy their crops and possibly introduce new diseases to our island, as has happened on other islands. because of all the concerns, the state government is stepping in to manage and control the herds by allowing the hunting of the deer to bring the populations down.