Friday, April 21, 2006
There is an interesting opinion piece in the Honolulu Advertiser about invasive species, by columnist Lee Cataluna, referring to this recent report about the feral pig (Sus scrofa) problem in Manoa. In it, she speaks of feral pigs as a problem of Honolulu's urban elite, saying that while they do not want the pigs rooting around in their gardens, they also cringe at the thought of an organized culling. Ms. Cataluna notes that in a more rural area she visited, people just treated the pigs as something to be hunted down, and were even selling the "ono" (delicious) pork as a way of raising funds for the local school.
We typically hear about feral pigs with respect to their ability to damage wild habitats, rather than their negative interactions with people. Though Manoan residents note environmental damage as one of their reasons for concern about the feral pigs, my guess is that their interest has been piqued mostly by the risks to their flower beds and pets.
That's "ono" -- Hawaiian for "tasty" -- and it tells you something that our house, built in the 60s, in near-rural Hilo, has a smokehouse out back....
It's not just an elite issue, though: people worried about conservation of native bird species consider the pigs a problem, as well.
It does raise the question of what qualifies as "invasive" though: Pigs have been in Hawai'i as long as people, and as long as many of the polynesian implant plants, etc.
OhNo! That was a typo :-)
Also, I cannot remember the exact source at the moment, but I did read that the feral pig was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands during two historical periods. The Polynesian introductions were smaller animals - the later European pigs were buffer, more than 100 punds heavier! Just soemthing to consider.
Lee Cataluna's piece was a rather cavalier social statement, rather than a serious assessment of the feral pig problem in Hawai`i. It is likely to minimize in the public's eye the huge problem that feral pigs represent with regard to the degradation of native forest ecosystems, watersheds, and biological diversity. I found it disappointing.
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