Historic goat control in parks topic of talk

The Friends of Haleakala National Park will sponsor a presentation by Don Reeser titled “Historical Feral Animal Control in Hawaii’s National Parks” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center’s poolside multipurpose room in Pukalani. The public is invited to the free event; light refreshments will be served.

Reeser, who served 17 years as Haleakala National Park superintendent and 11 years as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park chief of resources management, will tell from his experiences of the political and bureaucratic difficulties in establishing a successful feral animal program that has now become the standard for protecting national parks and other natural areas in the state.

Until the 1970s, nearly none of the two national parks’ acreage was protected from feral animals, according to a release.

Reeser, in his illustrated talk, will tell about large-scale goat drives and periodic hunts that did little more than maintain a healthy population that continued to decimate habitat necessary for the survival of native insects and birds.

Not until dividing up the park into manageable fenced areas could effective elimination of these animals be realized.

Funding and implementing such a program proved to be difficult in the face of opposition from hunter organizations as well as public misunderstanding of the impact that these animals had on preservation goals, according to the release. Conservation organizations in Hawaii and nationally played a big role in helping to turn things around.

Information about the Friends of Haleakala National Park can be found at www.fhnp.org.