Reward offered for info on tractor fire

A Kilauea land manager is offering $2,000 to find those responsible for setting a tractor on fire last weekend.

Al Paterson, the manager of 1,400 acres of land on Halaulani Ranch near the Guava Kai Plantation, said that on Sunday a tractor was found burned where it was parked at the base of Mahele Hill.

According to the contractor who owns the tractor, their crews have worked on that land for about three years doing various projects like mowing grass and clearing land.

A local family whose family has lost thousands of dollars because their insurance doesn’t cover it, and another local family is losing income because the worker only gets paid when he’s on that tractor, Paterson said.

The contractor said they have more machinery to cover the work, but the damages to the tractor are not covered by insurance.

“In this down time, it’s definitely not something we want to happen to us,” the contractor said. Replacing the destroyed parts could cost more than $30,000, Patterson estimated.

Patterson said he thinks “disgruntled poachers” may have been involved in the tractor fire. Through the land owner, John Wells, controlled pig hunting is allowed year-round as well as pheasant hunting during certain times of the year, he said.

Lately, a group of younger hunters have come on the land with untrained dogs and don’t seem to follow hunters guidelines or practices, Paterson said.

“But the real shame of it is that forces us to rethink our policies…it affects everybody’s ability to enjoy the land,” he added. He said that during the summer a dog belonging to a poacher attacked one of their cows and tore its tongue out, causing it to suffer a long, painful death.

Limiting access to hunters who have trained dogs and follow the rules may have caused some conflicts, Paterson said.

Police were called regarding the tractor on Sunday, and the case is under investigation.

The $2,000 will be given for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) who set fire to the tractor. Please call 639-0930 or mail information to P.O. Box 1491, Hanalei, HI 96714. The names and sources of information will be kept confidential.

Staff writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and kmanguchei@pulitzer.net

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