Picture two sweaty people, two hours plus on the trail yesterday in the great outdoors on a fresh, sunshiny morning … but this was not a pleasure hike along the state trail that runs up the back of Nounou Mountain. This was a mission to eradicate aggressive weeds impinging on our property that borders the trail.
Mr. K’s Subaru Baja is on its way right now to the Kapaa greenwaste facility with a full, net-swathed truck bed of our accomplishments to unload. His regular co-worker is at this keyboard to write of the experience, a slightly different “Green Flash” (“GF”).
Actually, the wild “peegs” started this most recent chapter of our usually quiet lives in our semi-rural neighborhood. Starting in late December, they came rampaging into our garden space in the wee hours of the night, leaving deep furrows ripped in the lawns and large holes dug out in their search for food.
This particular homestead offered no dropped avocados or other attractants, fallen and wasting, so all we could figure was that the hungry pigs were trying to find burrowing worms under our sod, and edible roots. They seemed to prefer the roots of the ulu (breadfruit) tree. Night after night, they came, enlarging their digs into trenched areas, much to our consternation.
The rain-drenched conditions of the earth also added to the problem. One area’s been beaten down into a muddy transit lane, complete with all the little cloven-hoofed prints of large and small wild pigs left for morning discovery after the night’s hunger attacks.
“There must be more pigs than ever, and they’re running out of food sources on the mountain,” said Mr. K, shovel in hand, as he tried to smooth and tamp the damage.
We thought back over the years living here at the base of Nounou Mountain. There had been a few nighttime raids reported by neighbors some years back. However, these were for taro being grown in the vegetable gardens.
Our next-door neighbor months ago told me he’d seen a large, whitish boar and several smaller pigs shoot out of the state trail access entry to our neighborhood several nights in a row, but I figured no taro, no pig dig.
Wrong! That way of thinking has been proved false.
The problem of wild pigs foraging and creating havoc in people’s yards is not a new one on island. When a friend showed us how her back lawn had been ripped to smithereens some years back, we figured it was because she lives “way up” and had a valley behind her.
She ended up expending money for extensive fencing before re-sodding her lawn. And there were other stories, but these were in “wilder” areas where homes had been built, tucked into nature.
Even when we read and heard that bow-and-arrow hunting of pigs had been announced in the Nounou Forest Reserve — with state permitting, of course — we stupidly didn’t perceive that such a pig problem would develop for us. Last time we strolled to the shaded bridge over Opaekaa Stream with visiting family (post our first pig rampaging), we noticed hunters were to sign in, but the page displayed was blank. “Where are these bow-and-arrow hunters?” asked the three boys in the family, whose interest had been tweaked by the idea of wild pigs — something they didn’t dream they’d “meet” on their New Year’s vacation to Kauai from the settled atmosphere of Silicon Valley.
Now, I’ll reiterate: Yes, where are you, dear bow hunters?
Please hear my call to come for the pork-on-the-run! Think of all that nice smoked meat that might come of your pursuits.
I know there’s one savvy wahine who lives a “stone’s throw” from us who was reported by her husband as being the “marksman” of the pair, while he is the cook. And our neighbor across the way, the grower of buttery avocados and ulu (and a bow hunter) told Mr. K that he has been waiting to have his state license renewed. So please, someone in the DLNR state office, get that permitting glitch (if there is one) fixed.
Which brings me back to the four-and-a-half hours spent on the trail. This started by a plan to fill in the gaps under the state fence bordering our property where we saw pigs had entered. Using green plastic fencing and posts, we began carrying out our mission.
Of course, the work multiplied as we found a veritable plantation of tall weeds on the trail-side that had shot up since the last mowing. These were on the verge of broadcasting a zillion seeds, so we uprooted them. This led to our deciding to rip yards (!) of aggressive philodendron vines off the state fence posts. These snake out and place a strangle-hold on fruit trees and other plants.
Once we tussled with the worst of these, our efforts revealed hundreds of kou saplings making their bid on life begun in the weedy border “jungle” along the state trail. The parent trees were planted 20 to 25 years ago in an attempt to encourage native tree plantings.
When they matured, however, they encroached on private properties adjoining the trail. Consequently, they were sawed down — the ones growing next to us, one year ago.
And so it goes, our particular personal snapshot of “(wo)man vs. nature, trying to carve her/his small place in the world from the wild.” Our question: Can we live harmoniously and peacefully as neighbors to wild pigs? Dear “GF” readers, watch for more on the Year of the Boar 2019, upcoming.
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.