Vandals damage miles of fencing at Big Island nature reserve

Vandals damage miles of fencing at Big Island nature reserve

MAUNA LOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Taxpayers will have to cover more than $100,000 worth of damage to fencing at the Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve on the Big Island, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Vandals cut nearly two miles of fencing – designed to keep feral goats, pigs and other invasive animals away from native plants – that surrounds the area, the DLNR said.

"Whatever point these vandals think they're making, they need to realize that they and every other taxpayer in Hawaii, ultimately ends up paying for the replacement of this fencing," said Suzanne Case, chairwoman for the DLNR, in a statement released Monday night. "Additionally, significant staff time will be spent to repair the damage which could take several months and takes staff away from other scheduled projects and regular duties."

A first-degree criminal property damage case was filed after the incident was reported to the DLNR. Vandals face a class B felony with thousands of dollars in fines along with five to 10 years in jail.

Hundreds of miles of fencing around the state were constructed for the purpose of protecting watersheds and native plants. In the past, some hunters have opposed fences, saying they restrict access to hunting grounds. But investigators have not said whether hunters are suspected in this case.

Anyone with information is asked to call (808) 643-DLNR.

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