James T. Morrison R(S)
Feral Pigs on the Big Island
The history of feral pigs in Hawaii is a complex one that is deeply intertwined with the island's human history. The first feral pigs in Hawaii were brought to the islands by Polynesian settlers around 1000 AD. These pigs were considered a valuable resource by the Polynesians, who used them for both food and religious ceremonies. They were raised in walled enclosures called "pig pens" and were allowed to roam free in certain areas of the island.
In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook arrived in Hawaii and introduced European pigs to the island. These pigs were larger and more aggressive than the Polynesian pigs and quickly interbred with them. As the population of feral pigs grew, they began to spread across the islands, causing damage to the native ecosystem. They would root through the ground, destroying native plants and animals and compete with native wildlife for food.
During the 19th century, sugar and pineapple plantations were established in Hawaii, and pigs were used as a source of food for the plantation workers. However, many of these pigs were allowed to roam free and soon became feral. As the human population of Hawaii grew, so did the number of feral pigs. These pigs were now found in all of the main Hawaiian Islands, including Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.
In the 20th century, the Hawaiian government began to take steps to control the population of feral pigs. Hunting and trapping were used to reduce their numbers, but these efforts were often ineffective. In recent years, the use of aerial hunting and the use of pig-specific poison baits have been implemented, with some success.
Today, feral pigs are considered a significant problem in Hawaii, causing damage to the environment and spreading diseases to native wildlife. The state and federal government, along with many non-profit organizations, continue to work to control their population and protect the native ecosystem. Despite the challenges, the history of feral pigs in Hawaii is a reminder of the impact that human actions can have on the natural world, and the importance of preserving the unique biodiversity of the islands.