Soaring axis deer populations creating havoc on Maui airport runway, Hawaii


In 1868, eight axis deer were presented as a gift from Hong Kong to King Kamehameha V of Hawaii, who in turn introduced the modest population to the isle of Molokai. With no natural predators and an ample food supply, the deer population has since exploded to more than 100,000.

The problem of deer overpopulation has been particularly severe this year in Maui County as large numbers of axis deer migrated into agricultural and developed areas seeking food and water due to dry landscapes and a lack of rainfall. There are around 50,000 axis deers in Maui county alone.  A herd of 300 to 500 deer is seen moving along the fence line of the Kahului Airport with a few entering active runways causing flight disruptions.

Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation that extends the emergency relief period for conditions created by the overpopulation of axis deer in Maui County. The proclamation states

Last year, large numbers of axis deer started migrating into agricultural and developed areas seeking food and water during a period of drought in Maui County. The axis deer are threatening the safety, health, and welfare of our residents and visitors on Maui. I’m extending the disaster declaration to enable the state and county to handle the axis deer problem as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In March 2020, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared Maui County as a natural disaster-affected area because of drought conditions, which remain unchanged as of date.

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