Project to rid east Maui of invasive cattle raises concerns after dead cows left to rot

KAHIKINUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's one of the most remote and rugged areas of East Maui. And an effort to remove invasive cattle and other ungulates there -- and harvest them for their meat -- has some area residents concerned.

The Kahikinui Project was started to harvest some 2,000 invasive animals from the area and then them into 500,000 pounds of protein. Organizers also want to replant Koa in the forest above the homestead.

The effort has the support of Ka Ohana O Kahikinui.

"Well, the main objective is to restore the watershed," said Ka Ohana O Kahikinui treasurer Kaleo Cullen. "For years it's been lacking, and with the cattle running free, it's just destroying the forest."

But the project is getting pushback from another group of DHHL lessees who say the Kahikinui Project's hunters aren't harvesting all the meat.

"Leaving the dead carcasses, which attract mongoose, rats, and creates a bigger problem with our feral pig issue," said Napua Hueu of the Kahikinui Game and Land Management Organization.

That group also questions whether the animals are being killed humanely. Hueu also worries that hunters coming from the project on the Big Island may bring the fungus that causes rapid ohia death to the forest.

Hueu also says the DHHL has ignored their concerns.

"It seems as if they just sort of pushed our internal community organization to the side," she said. They want the project halted immediately.

However, the DHHL said it's been consulting with the community for the last 20 years, and that the project has broad support.

The Kahikinui project also has its own website, explaining in detail what they're doing, and why.

The project organizations have also started a Kickstarter page to raise $100,000 by April 9. They hope to use the money to harvest the animals and to build a fence to protect more than 4,500 acres of the forest.

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