Army and bowhunters finding balance at Pohakuloa
It’s open season at Pohakuloa Traning Area. The 133,000-acre Army facility between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa has made its land much more available to hunters over the last year, allowing sportsmen greater access to areas not being used for military training.
Lt. Col. Eric Shwedo, PTA commander, said he has made at least portions of the training area open for hunters about every weekend since September. Shwedo, who took the job last July, said he didn’t think it was necessary to continue a policy that allowed sporadic use for hunters. “It did not take me long to realize that hunting is important to the community,” he said. “There was no reason in my mind we couldn’t have hunting somewhere,” Shwedo added. As much as about 30,000 acres may be available for hunting at a time, he said. Sheep, goats, and to a lesser extent, pigs call PTA home.
As with most of the island, they can pose a threat to endangered or threatened plant species at the base, which the Army spends about $5 million a year protecting. Since September, the Army has tallied 1,841 mammals being bagged by hunters with 5,340 hunting trips. Older figures weren’t immediately available. Shwedo said hunting can help keep ungulate populations under control, though he sees PTA’s role as being about animal management and not extermination. That’s what Anthony Sylvester, chair of the county’s new Game Management Advisory Commission, said he wants to hear. “In a year, we took out 1,800 animals, and it’s a sustainable population,” he said.
Sylvester believes game management has been lacking in the state, and he sees PTA as an example of how it can be done. “It doesn’t take much,” he said. The more open policy has made hunters happy “big time,” Sylvester added. Shwedo said he does hunt but won’t be joining other sportsmen while he is commander at PTA. “I don’t want it to look like I opened up my own little hunting area,” he said. Shwedo said PTA has been able to accommodate both hunters and training needs. “Being able to find that balance has been relatively easy,” he said.
Mahalo to Tom Callis for this blog
This entry was posted on Saturday, June 8th, 2013 at 4:08 pm
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