A bill prohibiting having feral deer or releasing them into the wild was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Senate Bill 3001 was passed by the Legislature as a measure to prevent the spread of Axis deer.
The deer have thrived on Maui, causing an estimated $1 million in damage to farms, ranches and tourist resorts. There has been environmental damage on Molokai and Lanai as well. And recently on Hawaii island, they have caused damage to ranch grasslands, farm crops and plants that are vital to maintain watershed areas.
The new law aims to stop the deliberate spread of wild or feral deer and establishes penalties for the intentional possession or interisland transportation or release of wild or feral deer.
“It is imperative that Hawai’i’s environment and local industry be protected from the devastating effects that non-native species can pose to the health of our local economy and ecosystem, ” said Sen. Gilbert Kahele (District 2- Ka’u, Puna, Hilo), who introduced the measure. “This measure establishes the regulations needed to prevent the unwanted spread of Axis Deer so that our environment and businesses can continue to grow and prosper,” he said in a press release.