Wildlife refuge seeks to keep predators out
A quartet of feral pigs roots for food earlier this month inside the boundaries of the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge staffers report an influx of pigs and deer over the past five years, with a further increase since sugar farming operations shut down. Refuge Manager Joe Schwagerl said the 700-acre refuge recently received a grant of nearly $1 million to install predator-proof fencing around the perimeter of the refuge. The 7-foot-tall fence will be topped by a hood to keep out cats and at the bottom by quarter-inch wire meshing running into the ground to stop pigs and mongooses. Schwagerl said the project is out to bid, and contractors have been invited to tour the project Aug. 9. He said the grant provides enough money to fence in most of the refuge but not along North Kihei Road, where the pond itself will be used to block access. He also said the long-closed interpretive Visitor Center is scheduled to reopen in mid-August.