Pig population at Kealia Pond a cause for concern

Your article on feral pigs (Oct. 31) may have given the impression that the Kealia Pond refuge did not know the land they manage well enough to realize they had a pig problem until recently.

As the refuge biologist, I saw pig signs increase in 2012. Trail camera videos showed large enough numbers (including few deer) that I alerted management that we had a problem and needed to control them now. By 2013 I saw pig trails and pigs during the day near the refuge visitor center.

This problem fit the purpose for which the refuge system’s Invasive Species Strike Team was established. The strike team’s strategy focuses on early detection rapid response of emerging encroachment of invasive species. They mobilized in summer 2013 with technical assistance from another agency who built two corral-type traps. Pigs were attracted to the bait, but were trap shy.

Based on trail-camera footage, those who worked with pigs estimated a population of at least 50 pigs, but by fall 2013 control efforts were essentially abandoned when it needed a new strategy. By then we did not have a Maui-based manager as an advocate. I left the refuge that winter.

I wonder if there is an interest in convening a workshop with pig experts to develop a control plan? If the population erruption continues, there are communities who know how to express their concerns, as the Kealia refuge learned several years ago.

Michael Nishimoto