HONOLULU (AP) - Damage caused by feral pigs at Kaneohe's Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden has increased since a contract allowing federal workers to trap the animals ended nearly two months ago.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday that the $51,754 contract expired Sept. 30. It was not automatically renewed and was under review as the city faces an operating budget shortfall, said city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke.
Broder Van Dyke said that after seeing damage from feral pigs, the city is again approaching the Honolulu City Council to renew the contract.
A proposal for a new $53,009 contract was submitted Oct. 31. The council's Intergovernmental Affairs and Human Services Committee gave preliminary approval to a resolution authorizing renewal of the contract, with the full council expected to give final approval Dec. 11.
Workers from a U.S. Department of Agriculture office captured 232 feral pigs at gardens from 2007 to 2013. Most were at Hoomaluhia.
Hoomaluhia Supervisor Alma Phocas said 50 to 70 wild pigs come from wooded sections of the garden after dark and cause damage.
"They damage the root systems of plants," she said. "It's a battle protecting our plants against the destruction they do."
Since federal traps were removed, the pigs seem to be less afraid, venturing as close as 3 or 4 feet from campsites. "They're coming closer and getting bolder, coming to campsites, even parking lots," Phocas said.
Captured pigs are euthanized and buried at the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in leeward Oahu, said Stan Oka, chief of the Parks Department's Division of Urban Forestry.
City officials should consider using the animals for food, said Kymberly Pine, council intergovernmental affairs chairwoman. "When I think of the poverty in my district and how people go hunting in the mountains for food, it kind of saddens me that (the carcasses) are coming back to my district into the landfill," she said. "I'd rather it be consumed."