New initiative educates hikers and hunters about dogs on trails

Aaron Lowe, Na Ala Hele's Oahu trails specialist
Aaron Lowe, Na Ala Hele's Oahu trails specialist
Jennifer Hee
Jennifer Hee

KULIOUOU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New safety signs are going up this week at trailheads across Oahu. The goal is to prevent problems involving hunting dogs on hiking trails. The outreach effort from the state comes after a recent attack on an unleashed pet. The new initiative came out of a working group created in 2010 that included hunters, hikers and other parties, but last month's attack at Manana Trail added a sense of urgency to put up the signs.

Friends Jennifer Hee and Megan Suzuki both brought their dogs along for a hike on the Kuliouou Valley Trail. While "Mati" was on a leash, "Chubby" was roaming free which is against the law. The Department of Land and Natural Resouces' Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program is putting up more than 20 signs at trailheads on Oahu. They remind hikers about the leash law and warn them that hunting maybe going on, too.

"He seems better off a leash, but if that's the law then," said Suzuki. "It is, and that's the challenge," replied Aaron Lowe, Na Ala Hele's Oahu trails specialist.

"I think signs are necessary because I didn't know that this was actually a hunting area," said Hee.

A sign was posted earlier this week at the Manana Trail where Amanda McCracken's dog was mauled by a pack of hunting dogs last month. Nani wasn't on a leash. McCracken said the hunters didn't control their dogs.

"Some choose not to obey by them and don't, I think, keep in good control of their dogs, and we want to get that message out to the hunting community that it's important for them to control their dogs," said Lowe.

"I was extremely scared because I go hiking all the time with my dog," said Hee.

Breaking the leash law a petty misdemeanor, but the state is hoping for voluntary compliance.

"Our program oversees about 100 miles of trail and we have limited enforcement and management capabilities for that much mileage," explained Lowe.

"The enforcement branch won't walk on the trails to see if the hikers have their dogs leashed, and I think once you make an example out of the hikers and the hunters alike, maybe then people will listen," said Ollie Lunasco of the Pig Hunters Association of Oahu.

Now available online on the Na Ala Hele website is an incident report form that the public can use to report dog interaction and other incidents that may occur while using state trails on Oahu.

  • Go to the Na Ala Hele website and select an Oahu trail.
  • Search under the "Trail announcements" tab and click on "To report problems, incidents or trail damage."
  • Complete the form online and click "submit."

The form will be sent to the Oahu Trails Specialist for review and to determine what further action may be required.

The person reporting the incident will be prompted to call the island trail specialist if the matter is urgent or if they are not contacted within 10 business days of filing the report.

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