Axis Deer Have No Access Here!

In recent news, two men by the names of Jeffrey Grundhauser (from Maui) and Daniel Rocha (from the Big Island) were found guilty of illegally exchanging 14 mouflon sheep from the Big Island for $1,000 along with four axis deer from Maui. (“Axis deer possession,” 2012) This exchange not only violated the federal Lacey Act, but was the first known introduction of axis deer to the Big Island.

Back in April 2011, axis deer were confirmed to inhabit the Big Island via sightings and credible photographic evidence taken by local ranchers. Since then, DLNR staff and partners at the Big Island Invasive Species Committee have been working to eliminate the deer from the island. But it is unclear as to how many of these deer actually exist or how their population is being controlled.

Nevertheless, the islands of Maui and Molokai serve as obvious examples as to how axis deer can cause severe damage to local agriculture and forest resources. According to environmentalists, they’ve increased erosion and sedimentation that contribute to the damage of coral reefs and near shore fisheries. Maui Agricultural Specialists estimated deer damage to Maui Nui farms, ranches and resorts exceeded $2 million over a two-year period, with an additional $1 million spent to remove or exclude deer from those locations. Another source also mentions that the deer can cause automobile collisions and deer feces left behind on farmlands can make remaining crops un-sellable by federal regulations. (“Axis deer possession,” 2012)

On June 21, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 3001. The Hawaii State Legislature website states that:

“This measure prohibits the intentional possession and inter-island transportation or release of wild or feral deer. As the introduction of non-native species to the State poses a negative effect on Hawaii’s environment and indigenous species in a variety of ways, SB 3001 aims to provide a deterrent to the purposeful spread of wild or feral deer within the State and establishes penalties for the intentional possession or inter-island transportation or release of wild or feral deer.” (“Governor signs measure,” 2012)

It was Senator Gilbert Kahele who introduced this bill. “That was one of my key legislations—to prevent the axis deer from establishing itself on the big island,” said Kahele. It’s creating a lot of problems on Maui now. I know that some hunters, friends of mine, were not happy about it but it’s an issue that goes beyond hunting because for some people it’s a livelihood—they own farms, nurseries, coffee growers in Kona and Ka’u. And I’ve talked to legislatures on Maui, from the Mayor to representatives, Senator–they all know what kind of problem it has been.” Kahele went on to say that, “Also, there’s diseases like Tuberculosis on Molokai where the cattle needed to be killed [because of the deer]. So you don’t want that to happen on this island [Big Island]. That would devastate our ranchers,” said Kahele, enthusiastically.

“It was brought here illegally and if we had gone through the bureaucratic system, we’d still be talking about it. So I introduced the bill, the governor eventually signed it and people [law offenders] are going to have to pay this huge restitution—to send a clear message that they can’t do that,” said Kahele.

In fact, with this law in place, it assures that there will be mandatory fines of no less than $10,000, payment of costs to eradicate the deer, and possible imprisonment. It is stated that fines collected for convictions under this law may also be used to manage or control populations of introduced wildlife and mitigate any damages caused.

However, many Big Island hunters and wildlife enthusiasts would rather see the deer thrive in their new home, which would create new game as well as a new food source. After speaking to a few of them, it seems that many still do not see the harm in letting the deer populate on the island. Many also deny that there would be any spread of diseases such as the suspected lime disease or tuberculosis these animals are known to carry. “These animals were brought here as a gift to Kamehameha back in the day as a gesture of appreciation and a food source for his people. It is really bothersome to know that they [DLNR] are just killing these deer off like rats,” said Travis Figueira, one of the local protesters from the hunting community. He also claims that he and many other hunters are under the impression that these deer are being eradicated “inhumanely.”  There are many like Figueira who are rooting for the deer to populate faster than the time it’ll take DLNR to control the situation. It is not a surprise that these people have a lot of resentment towards the people behind the new SB 3001 law, including Senator Kahele.

Successful elimination of the deer from the Hawaii Island is expected to require a considerable investment of public resources. The department has notified hunters and landowners that any assistance they can provide is appreciated. And whether people want to share the Big Island with these creatures or not, one thing is clear: anyone else who attempts to provide access for these axis deer to the Big Island, will not go unpunished.



Governor signs measure to prevent the spread of axis deer. (2012, June 21). Retrieved from

Hunters encouraged to help control axis deer. (2012, October 28). Retrieved from

Axis deer possession now illegal in hawaii. (2012, June 21). Retrieved from

Oct. 3, 2012- General Info. on Kahele

Born in Miloli‘i, Gilbert Kahele is a life-long resident to the island of Hawaii. Following his graduation from Hilo High School in 1960, Kahele served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 1964, graduated from Laney College in Oakland, California, and returned to Hilo in 1976. He is a retired 37-year employee of the Hawai‘i State Department of Defense, having worked out of the Pohakuloa Training Area in the Public Works Division.

On January 11, 2011, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Gilbert Kahele as Senator for the Second District to replace Sen. Russell Kokobun. And recently, he ran again in the 2012 election for Hawaii State Senate District 1. Kahele defeated Donald Ikeda in the Democratic primary on Aug. 11, 2012. And with Hilo being my hometown, I chose Kahele to be my political subject in order to find out more about his future endeavors for my local community.

According to his official website, at, Kahele states, “ I would like to take the opportunity to thank the voters of Senate District One and a special mahalo to my hard working campaign team. Your commitment, public support and friendship is something that I will never forget.” (Buenaventura, 2012)The senator’s website also provides tabs regarding “Gil’s 2011 Senate Record,” “Gil’s 2012 Senate Record, and “Gil’s goals for East Hawaii.” (Buenaventura, 2012) However, when attempting to click on these tabs, you will find that there is an “error establishing a database connection.” This is something I plan on mentioning when meeting Kahele.

Sen. Kahele uses many social and technological tools to communicate post-campaign. In order to reach a younger, more cyber-friendly audience, he uses Twitter as well as Facebook. In doing so, he promotes interactivity between himself and his followers and also provides an on-demand delivery. By being involved in such social networking sites, it shows that he has made an effort to become connected to younger generations and therefore willingly inclined to relate to their needs or concerns. Not to mention that these sites give his supporters the convenience to stay informed with his events at their own pace rather than being bombarded by any preaching when they may not be willing to hear it.

Another tactic that is clearly used by Kahele is his frequent meet-and-greet events. A current example of this would be his appearance at Ebesugawa’s Flower Shop on Saturday, September 29, 2012. According to David Corrigan from Big Island Video News, “after 80 years in business, the little flower shop on Furneaux Lane – a Hilo town institution – closed its doors. Ninety-year old Ann Ebesugawa Kaya, the last of six well-known sisters to operate the Ebesugawa Sister’s flower shop has now retired.” (Corrigan, 2012) There, State Senator Gilbert Kahele, presented a special commendation to Ann for her family’s many years of hard work. And from Kea’au library technicians to honor recipients of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards Banquet, there have been many instances such as this where Kahele has recognized or commended citizens within the community.

Also, showing his concern for the environment back in March, Kahele even recognized the Adopt-a-Beehive program with Alan Wong. On the Hawaii State Legislature website, he stated that he “was very impressed with this innovative idea that partners Chef Alan Wong and UH Hilo conceived in educating their students and the community on the vital role that honey bees play in sustaining agriculture in Hawaii.”

Sen. Kahele, who happens to be vice chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, co-adopted a beehive with Senator Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

And in April 16, 2012, on, Kahele also addressed state funding for projects on the Hawaii Island in order to create jobs and stimulate the economy. “There are people who are under-employed and unemployed in the trades industry on Hawaii island, and these capital improvement projects will provide jobs that they so urgently need,” said Kahele.

However, of all the events he’s been involved with, I find that the measures Sen. Kahele has taken regarding the island’s invasion of Axis deer has raised the most concerns and controversy within his community.

On June 21, Gov. Neil Abercrombie enacted Senate Bill 3001, Relating to Wildlife. “This measure prohibits the intentional possession and inter-island transportation or release of wild or feral deer.” The introduction of non-native species to the State poses a negative effect on Hawaii’s environment and indigenous species in a variety of ways. Specifically, the Axis Deer has caused great damage to native habitats and agricultural crops on Maui and are a danger to vehicular traffic on roadways. SB 3001 aims to provide a deterrent to the purposeful spread of wild or feral deer within the State and establishes penalties for the intentional possession or inter-island transportation or release of wild or feral deer. “It is imperative that Hawaii’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, 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.” 

However, not all of the community is happy to see the axis deer go. Many hunters and wildlife enthusiasts would rather the deer thrive in their new home, creating new game as well as a new food source. Nevertheless, Sen. Kahele, the State Legislature and the governor were commended for passing Senate Bill 3001. “Such illegal introductions cause unnecessary animal suffering and harm to the environment,” said Inga Gibson, Hawaii director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Thus, like all politicians, there are always advocates as well as opposition. But in a recent article by West Hawaii Today, it was announced that the “Milolii Wharf improvement was completed,” giving Kahele the opportunity to regain some kudos within the public eye. According to the article, “State Sen. Gil Kahele (D-Hilo, Puna, Ka‘u) listed the project as one of his 2012 legislative accomplishments and expressed gratitude to the DLNR for making the landing safer to use.” He also thanked Guy Kaulukukui, former DLNR deputy director, for “personally looking into the neglected facility and helping advocate that the necessary repairs get done.” (Zenk, 2012)

As you can see, Kahele has made many attempts to continue positive self-promotion. In fact, you can also find him on his Youtube website,, where his public appearances are frequently updated and posted. Another source of his multimedia attributes can be found on the website where he’s recently discussed his perspective on the issue with Hawaii’s axis deer. Until I meet him in person, I have yet to form my own personal opinion, as campaigns do have the potential to be misleading. Nevertheless, the truth will be told upon our acquaintance. Stay tuned for more following our interview!





Twitter & Facebook: Kahele on Election Day

“This years session was extremely productive for Hawaiʻi Island. The CIP projects and legislation I was able to lobby for and achieve would not have been possible without the help of our Big Island Legislative team in the House and Senate. It is always a team effort as all of us strive every day to improve the quality of life for our Hawaiʻi Island families. I am looking forward to working closely with the Executive Administration and our Governor to insure that these funds are released so work can begin on these critical projects.” -Senator Gil Kahele onʻs-2012-senate-record/

As you may know, Kahele had already acquired his position as Senator in the primary election. Therefore, while many of my classmates covered there candidates on Election Day, I kept up with the presidential electoral vote count and read through Kahele’s news feeds to see if he had any politically-related responses throughout the day.

On Twitter, the only thing Kahele posted yesterday was: “From Hilo, Hawaii..@BarackObama, Congratulations Mr. President!!” –14 hours ago


On Monday, Nov. 5, Kahele wrote: “Democratic Grand Rally in Hilo starting in 1 hour. If you are not able to attend you can watch the live stream here at 5:00PM.” He also attached a link to the Hawaii Democratic Grand Rally. You may visit the following link to review the livestream. (

On Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7:23 am, Kahele wrote this quote while posting the following picture: “It’s election day in America! Lets get out the Vote!”

Photo: Its election day in America! Lets get out the Vote!

Tuesday at 8:58 am, Kahele wrote: “Final GOTV canvassing for Mazie in Waiakea Uka,” along with the following picture of Mazie Hirono for Hawaii U.S. Senate.

Photo: Final GOTV canvassing for Mazie in Waiakea Uka

On Tuesday at 9:38 am, Kahele wrote: “Leading the election day GOTV democratic coordinated campaign in Waiakea Uka for Mazie and Barack,” along with the following picture of himself in a truck proudly showing a large bobble-head version of Barack Obama.

And lastly, at 6:31 pm Kahele wrote: “Congratulations Mr. President! Obama Ohana!!”

Biographical Facts

  1. Gilbert Kahele was born in a grass shack by the sea on May 15, 1942 at Kalihi, just south of the Hawaiian fishing village of Miloliʻi in South Kona. (
  2. Born to Peter and Rebecca Kahele, both of Hawaiian descent, Gilbert was the third-born behind brothers Ronald and Peter and would be the older brother to Leighton, Mona, and Corrine. (
  3. Kahele moved to Hilo in the 1940s. Having recovered from World War II and the 1946 tsunami, Hilo was full of commerce, cars, buildings, sporting events and multiple nationalities, a far cry from the isolated fishing village of Miloliʻi on the other side of the island. (
  4. Gil first started living with his Uncle Abel at the Hilo Airport Naval Station Military Housing complex. Then, he moved to the Kimiville housing complex (near the present-day Bay front soccer fields). (
  5. In August of 1950, Gil’s father, Peter succumbed to tuberculosis at the Puumaile Hospital in Hilo, dying at age 39. (
  6. Graduated from Hilo High School in 1960 (
  7. Graduated with an Associate degree in Science in 1967 from Laney College in Oakland, California (
  8. After graduation, Gil began his long career of service to his country by joining the United States Marine Corps. Stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Twentynine Palms and Camp Pendleton, California, Gil was part of the engineering troop responsible for refrigeration. (
  9. Kahele married United Airlines stewardess Linda Haggberg in October of 1971, and the couple lived in Wahiawa. In 1976, the couple moved to Hilo. They had two children, Kai and Noelani. For the next 25 years Gil drove from Hilo up the Saddle Road to his job at the Pohakuloa Training Area, where he would eventually retire in 2000 as the Director of Public Works. (
  10. On January 11, 2011, Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Gil as Senator for District 2. (

Election Story Package

Hello, my name is Larissa Ishikawa. I’m a senior at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. As a student in UHM’s journalism 401 class, I have been assigned to compile a series of blogs dedicated to my chosen political candidate, who happens to be Senator Gilbert Kahele representing the new District 1 on the Big Island. In this series, you will find entries pertaining to Kahele’s history, candidacy, goals, videos, links, pictures, social networking site updates, and my own recording of our interview together addressing multiple topics, etc. This allows viewers to inquire the Senator on a variety of topics in one convenient place. However, as this is my first attempt at blogging, I’m aware this won’t be perfect so I’m open to feedback for any kind of editing I can do to improve this story package. Hope you find it informative and interesting! (:


-Larissa Ishikawa