Hawaii is a state known for its sandy, sun-kissed beaches, lush tropical forests, and aquatic biodiversity -- but it's unlikely sort of species that's been the focus of attention recently. The Big Island is home to some 600 wild donkeys, and for the last year, conservation officers have been working to curb their numbers in as humane a way as possible, spurred by a drought which has driven the animals into populated regions. So far, hundreds of donkeys have been castrated or administered birth control medication, but now officials are hoping to solve Hawaii's donkey problem once and for all -- by shipping them to California on chartered flights.
According to a report from Hawaii's KITV, the donkey airlift is being spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States, which plans to relocate the animals from the Big Island to two animal sanctuaries in California:
This latest twist on curbing the populations of wild donkeys, is part of a massive effort that's been underway since last year. Drought conditions forced the donkeys from the highlands down into Waikoloa Village in search of water. But the reports of donkeys appearing down by the highway and near Waikoloa School began to worry the community. The Humane Society of the U.S. teamed up with veterinarian Brady Bergin. The hungry animals were easy to trap with water and feed and Bergin began mass castrations of the males and administering a female contraceptive to the mares. Bergin has sterilized 200 of the original herd of about 600. At the end of the month, he will have help from about four to five mainland vets who will set up a castration clinic at Waikii ranch where about a hundred donkeys have been captured. They will be preparing the donkeys for the flight.
The efforts of conservation authorities to fly the animals to more hospitable conditions is no less than commendable considering other, likely lethal, alternatives to dealing with a problem species.
Check out KITV's report on the big move here.
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