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Overpopulated Deer Dropping Dead

I am writing as a concerned absentee condo owner on the west end of Molokai. My concern is the proliferating deer herds on the island which are experiencing heavy die-off due to lack of water and vegetation. Shared photos and videos reveal herds are decimating yards, gardens and grounds in daylight hours, unafraid of people, and still they are not able to sustain themselves, as evidenced by their bony, skeleton-like bodies.

Consequently, deer are dropping dead everywhere. Roadsides are punctuated with carcasses which only indicates the number that must be lying in the fields and forests of the island. It is said that hunters are shooting them nightly for sport, leaving the bodies to rot because their freezers are already full. The stench is horrible in some areas and flies are having a field day. Because of this, human health health is at risk, yet it seems nobody is addressing the situation. Certainly, we will see a dramatic increase in rodent populations.

It seems unlikely that brucellosis, which affects mainland ungulates, is also a factor, but who is to say that the weakened immune systems of the herds won’t precipitate a bacterial or viral outbreak that can travel to humans?

While the droughts of past years have always been a factor, long-time residents of Molokai maintain this is the worst state they have seen for the deer. Nature will take its course, but when we are on the cusp of possibly seeing the health of our friends, families and neighbors impacted by this calamity, should we not see more involvement of our governments, with health department participation? The problem is not manageable by the unorganized few.

Already, we have seen the ramifications with our leaders dismissing or ignoring the onset of COVID-19, and the rebelliousness of those who refuse to follow safety guidelines. Are we on the verge of seeing another pestilence on Molokai?

So, what lies ahead? This anomaly will dissipate, then return seasonally in varying aberrations, but what will each occurrence leave in its wake? There has to be a solution forthcoming to protect the health and quality of life for all on this island.

Dale Matlock
Kepuhi Beach Resort

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