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Maui axis deer survey counts about 8K animals

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:27 a.m. HST, Jan 13, 2014

Forest and Kim Starr via ASSOCIATED PRESs / April 12, 2012Axis deer were spotted last month in upcountry Maui near Makawao. Over the past two years, according to a survey, the animals have caused $1 million in damage for Maui farmers, ranchers and resorts. In the same time period, half of that was spent on trying to eliminate the animals. The movement of deer to Hawaii island, which was believed to be intentional, has wildlife officials seeking to eradicate the destructive creatures.

WAILUKU » The Maui Axis Deer Working Group is trying to quantify the invasive animal's population, while exploring whether developing a venison meat industry is a feasible solution for controlling its growth.

A September aerial survey counted about 8,000 deer in East Maui, the most heavily affected area. Axis deer were introduced to Maui in 1959, damaging farms, ranches and resorts.

Program manager Kanalu Sproat says the group in March plans to put radio collars on 20 female deer to monitor survival and reproduction rates.

The Maui News reported today that the group is working with a University of Delaware student studying a potential venison industry on Maui.

The group will also send surveys asking about the number of axis deer that are seen and what management methods are acceptable.

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