Feed­ing of feral an­i­mals sub­ject of one small-boat har­bor rule turn


About 50 tes­ti­fiers met in Wailuku for hear­ing on rule amend­ments

WAILUKU — Deal­ing with feral an­i­mals at small­boat har­bors and amend­ments to dive-flag rules were among the sub­jects tes­ti­fiers ad­dressed dur­ing a Wed­nes­day evening hear­ing on pro­posed rule changes to boat­ing laws and rules at small-boat har­bors.

The state Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Divi­sion of Boat­ing and Ocean Recre­ation is hold­ing hear­ings statewide on the rule changes. Some amend­ments are re­lated to rapid changes in the ocean recre­ation in­dus­try and re­lated fa­cil­ity man­age­ment. Some ob­so­lete rules are be­ing re­pealed. The 130-page pro­posed changes in­clude amend­ments in 16 sec­tions that cover “Ocean Recre­ation and Coastal Ar­eas.”

The pro­posed changes were a daunt­ing task to re­view, ac­cord­ing to some of the con­ver­sa­tions over­heard of the ap­prox­i­mately 50 at­ten­dees at the Velma McWayne San­tos Com­mu­nity Center in Wailuku.

One of the most dis­cussed topics Wed­nes­day was a new sec­tion that out­laws feed­ing of feral an­i­mals or wildlife, as well as aban­don­ing an­i­mals or cre­at­ing or con­tribut­ing to a colony of an­i­mals on Divi­sion of Boat­ing and Ocean Recre­ation prop­erty. Vi­o­la­tors could face a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of up to 30 days.

Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment, the new sec­tion aims “to ad­dress the growth of un­per­mit­ted feral an­i­mal colonies lo­cated within the small-boat har­bor fa­cil­i­ties.”

Laurie Pot­tish said the new amend­ments would make it il­le­gal to re­turn trapped and spayed an­i­mals, as part of pop­u­la­tion con­trol, to state small-boat har­bor prop­erty.

She later added that only a small per­cent­age of cats carry tox­o­plas­mo­sis, an in­fec­tion caused by a par­a­site.

Some tes­ti­fiers noted that a rea­son the state is try­ing to crack down on cats and other feral an­i­mals is be­cause of

tox­o­plas­mo­sis, which is spread by mul­ti­ple an­i­mals, not only cats.

In the past 15 years, there have been news re­ports that eight monk seals died from the par­a­site.

Bryan Kor­tis, the na­tional pro­gram di­rec­tor for Neigh­bor­hood Cats and a district leader for the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of the United States, agreed that cat pop­u­la­tions can be hu­manely con­trolled through ster­il­iza­tion. He said he’s wor­ried about the fate of stray an­i­mals at the small-boat har­bors.

“If you want to solve cat and pet over­pop­u­la­tion on state land, you need to lis­ten to and work with the an­i­mal wel­fare com­mu­nity,” he said.

The depart­ment pointed out Wed­nes­day that it al­ready has the au­thor­ity to dis­pose of preda­tors. It did not say specif­i­cally how the preda­tors would be dis­posed.

But there are those who sup­port re­strict­ing feral an­i­mals in har­bor ar­eas.

Bryan Berkowitz, found­ing mem­ber of Na Koa Manu, a non­profit that pro­tects na­tive Hawai­ian bird pop­u­la­tions, sup­ports the rule changes, say­ing there are many en­dan­gered birds and some seabirds en­demic to Maui that the revised rules would fur­ther pro­tect.

He noted the eight monk seas dy­ing of tox­o­plas­mo­sis, which “may not sound like a lot,” but there are only around sev­eral hun­dred monk seals in Hawai­ian waters.

There also was a dis­cus­sion about dive flags, with boat cap­tains ask­ing for fur­ther amend­ments to al­low snorkel­ers and divers from their boats to surface far­ther than 100 feet from their ves­sels.

The tes­ti­fiers said dive flags that are on the boats are eas­ily seen by other ves­sels as com­pared to flags that are in the wa­ter.

But depart­ment of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day that divers and snorkel­ers al­ready may range as far as they want from the flag un­der­wa­ter, but must surface within 100 feet of a dive flag.

The depart­ment said that the flag is sup­posed to cre­ate a “safe zone.”

New to the rules is a re­quire­ment to il­lu­mi­nate a dive flag at night. No one tes­ti­fied about the mat­ter Wed­nes­day.

Writ­ten com­ments on the pro­posed rules will be ac­cepted through mid­night Aug. 5.

To see the pro­posed rule amend­ments, go to dlnr. hawaii.gov/do­bor/draft-rules. They also can be re­viewed at the Maui divi­sion of­fice at 101 Maalaea Boat Har­bor Road. The of­fice phone num­ber is 243-5824.

Writ­ten tes­ti­mony may be sent via email to dlnr.har­review@hawaii.gov with the sub­ject line “Rule Amend­ment Pack­age 2017”; by fax at (808) 587-1977, “Attn.: Rule Amend­ment Pack­age 2017”; or by mail to the Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, 1151 Punch­bowl St., Room 130, Honolulu 96813. Mailed com­ments should in­di­cate that they are about the 2017 rule amend­ment pack­age.

Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER pho­tos

MPD Teen Academy cadets Koa­paka Purdy (from left), Gavin Arista and Kyl­san Mor­ton re­turn fire dur­ing a train­ing sim­u­la­tion last week af­ter be­ing fired upon dur­ing a traf­fic stop at the Maui Paint­ball fa­cil­ity in Olowalu. Tak­ing cover be­hind a bus is po­lice Sgt. Lawrence Pa­gad­uan.

The Maui News MATTHEW THAYER photo

The state Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Divi­sion of Boat­ing and Ocean Recre­ation is hold­ing hear­ings statewide on pro­posed rule changes to boat­ing laws and rules at small-boat har­bors, in­clud­ing Maalaea

Small Boat Har­bor pic­tured here.

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