Visitors accused of poaching 2 rare silverswords from Haleakala slopes

Updated: Jun. 26, 2018 at 8:56 PM HST
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HALEAKALA, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - Charges are pending against two visitors to Haleakala National Park after they were accused of picking the rare silversword plant.

Haleakala is known for incredible views of sunrises. It is also home to the rare silverswords, also known as ahinahina.

The plants are federally protected and considered to be a threatened species. Silverswords are found only on the slopes at altitudes higher than 6,900 feet.

"These plants are already so rare, picking them is illegal for a very good reason. Our most important job here in the park is to protect species like this," Haleakala National Park Chief Ranger Ari Wong said.

According to park officials, a visitor noticed an individual picking two keiki (juvenile) plants around 4:30 p.m. Monday. Officials said the alleged poacher then hid the plants in her clothes before fleeing the park.

The witness took note of the vehicle the individual left in and promptly notified park law enforcement.

Authorities were then able to track down the suspect and a driver in Paia Town an hour later. The silverswords were recovered.

"Visitors are encouraged to take pictures of these rare plants, but are reminded that removing or damaging them is a federal crime," park officials added.

Biologists are attempting to replant the stolen ahinahina.

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