The Maui Axis Deer Working Group will present a draft management plan to control the axis deer population on Maui to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council in July.
We'd urge the group to consider a suggestion that was made in a letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago: Stage a hunt where hunters could keep half the meat and the rest would be donated to the Maui Food Bank.
Stories about the growing population of the deer report that the animals have caused at least $1 million worth of damage to Maui's farms, ranches and resorts in the last two years.
Kenneth Yamamura, an ag specialist in the county Office of Economic Development, believes that number is understated. He points out that five ranches alone reported almost $500,000 in damages in those two years, plus spent another $610,000 on mitigation measures like fences.
The deer have caused damage to everything from crops to golf courses. They've made their way into hotel lobbies and are a threat to drivers on Maui's roads.
There are an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 axis deer on Maui island and, according to Warren Watanabe of the Axis Deer Working Group, their population is ever expanding. Watanabe said the plan that would be presented in July seeks to control the deer population, not eradicate it.
The hunt suggested by our reader would address two problems at once: Controlling the deer population; and providing meat to those in need.
If need be, the hunt could become an annual event. That way it would solve two on-going problems.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.