A drought is causing Molokai deer to starve, and carcasses are piling up

State blames severe drought conditions for the mass death of deer on Molokai.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state said that a severe drought on Molokai this year has led to the starvation of deer on the island.

Molokai residents shared videos and pictures of deer carcasses piling up in their yards and roadways during the past several weeks.

“Two days ago, we literally picked up 30 dead deer from three different properties,” said Patricia Hammond of Maunaloa, Molokai.

Deer on Molokai nearing a private condo.
Deer on Molokai nearing a private condo. (Source: HNN Viewer)

A video shared with Hawaii News Now also showed a deer coming right up to the door of a private condo community, indicating they’re searching for food outside of their normal habitats.

Along with the drought, the state said that Molokai’s deer have no natural predators except hunters, resulting in overpopulation.

“This is a self-fulfilling prophecy of invasive, non-native deer over-populating, degrading our forested watersheds and now starving as a result,” said David Smith, administration of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

State and county agencies are helping to removing the carcasses that pose potential hazards. But on private land, the state said that responsibility falls to the landowner.

“My office has been working on this situation for several months,” State Representative Lynn DeCoite said. “We are addressing the health, safety and well-being of the community. We ask for everyone’s patience while we are doing our best to clean up the carcasses and develop plans to try and manage the overpopulation of axis deer on Moloka’i.”

Residents who want to report deer carcasses may call:

  • Moloka’i Ranch, (808) 552-2444
  • State highways, (808) 873-3535
  • County road easements, (808) 553-3222
  • DLNR lands, (808) 984-8100

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