KEKAHA — Invasive wildlife continues to plague the Hawaiian Islands by decimating endemic species, expediting erosion and causing costly damage. However, one Kauai business is aiming to control the problem.
For Kekaha’s Kaniela Young, co-owner of Kani Wildlife Control, trapping and hunting has been a passion since he was a keiki.
“The number of pigs that we take out a year, basically as volunteers, was over a hundred a year, consistently for the last six to seven years,” Young said. “So we just decided Kauai is in need for a company like this.”
In October 2016, Kaniela and his wife Janoah started obtaining trapping equipment, licensing and permits after experiencing first-hand the damage that wild hogs, rose-ringed parakeets and even pigeons and chickens cause.
By September 2017, their family-owned business, Kani Wildlife Control LLC, began operating as a fully licensed and insured company protecting residential properties, agricultural areas and commercial investments on Kauai.
“The island needed somebody who could be dedicated to control the problem as a job,” Janoah Young said.
“There’s definitely a demand for it,” Kaniela Young added. “We have permits to actually trap and control wildlife on different agricultural lands, mainly on the Westside of the island.”
Kaniela Young has been trapping for nearly 15 years, while his lead wildlife control operator, Francis “Bully” Mission, has been doing it for more than 20 years, for a cumulative 35 years of experience with wildlife control on Kauai.
“We keep seeing statements about the lack of options that farmers and businesses have, so we thought we’d let them know that we are working towards being part of the solution for the invasive species problems on Kauai,” Kaniela Young said.
They mainly specialize in trapping and removal of feral pigs and chickens, but they also rent traps for $5 a day.
“Once we catch them, we eat ‘em,” Kaniela Young said. “Because we’re fully licensed and privately insured, we can give the meat away. A lot of it is shared with the community, anybody that requests.”
“We want to try to get a program in place where we could actually donate the meat to a processing facility,” Janoah Young said. “Ideally, if we could get something going with the state to allow us to do something with the meat, by all means, we would be happy to do something like that.”
Janoah Young has been researching noise deterrents for birds, working closely with Mainland engineers to develop devices successfully used on Kauai for lychee and mango farms that have been devastated by the invasive parakeets.
“There’s been a lot of issues with the rose-ringed parakeets,” she said.
The company has also been working with Bill Lucy of Kauai Invasive Species Committee to come up with a solution for eradication of the exotic birds.
“We’re really excited about this, in conjunction with combining other methods of control,” Kaniela Young said. “It seems to be at least deterring parakeets from damaging the farmers’ crops.”
Some hotels have problems with roosters destroying landscapes, making messes and creating health issues. The company had much success on a recent job at a Poipu hotel.
“We made a big difference in the chicken population,” said Mission, a former Department of Land and Natural Resources supervisor. “When they went out and did the spa activities, they noticed the chickens were eliminated. It was much more pleasurable without the roosters crowing in the morning and waking up the guests at midnight.”
The business provides effective, humane and environmentally acceptable methods of wildlife control services using motion-activated trail cameras with GPS data capabilities.
“We’re hoping eventually to partner with state entities, county agencies to be of service to the island of Kauai from the Westside all the way to Hanalei,” Kaniela Young said.
A member of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association, the family business works with DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and is fully compliant with state laws and regulations.
“It’s not as easy as one control method,” Janoah Young said. “You need to have an integrated plan that involves more than one method of control, and that’s where we’ve found the most success.”
With just four employees, the company trapped 34 pigs during the month of January. Now they are partnering with fencing and other companies, as well as the Kauai Humane Society with requests for trapping feral cats. They are also capable of capturing nuisance goats and stray dogs.
“The goats are definitely increasing in population. The biggest concern with the goats is erosion,” Kaniela Young said. “They’re in there by the hundreds, and you can just see how the landscape is slowly deteriorating.”
Whatever the nuisance species, they’re willing to reach out to people like scientists, experts, engineers, farmers, businesses and residents to try to come up with a safe solution to the serious problem.
“We’re hoping to get out there and expand,” Kaniela Young said. “We want people to understand that we’re here to help. We want to be part of the solution for this issue we’re having with invasive species.”
Info: (808) 754-3960, www.KaniWildlifeControl.com