Feral Donkeys on the Loose on the Big Island

A donkey round-up is underway.

Feral donkey

A recent aerial survey over the Waikoloa area found a donkey population estimated at 400-600. Severe drought conditions have been forcing donkeys to forage for something to eat or drink. Donkey’s have started coming into people’s backyards in the Village.

A friend of mine has a wonderful water feature in her backyard in the Sunset Ridge area, and one night she and her husband awoke to all this noise only to peer out their bedroom window in the middle of the morning and find two donkeys lapping up water. Of course, as soon as they knew they were “busted” they took off.

Around 2000, when the the donkeys became a nuisance at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, leaving their droppings all over the golf course, Hualalai had the donkeys rounded up by cowboys and trucked to Parker Ranch and Waikoloa. The exceptional drought in South Kohala means the donkeys are not getting enough food and water to sustain themselves, so they are resorting to swimming pools.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will not take an active role in removing the animals because they are on private land. The Humane Society of the U.S. said they would like the WVA association to adopt out the donkeys, but only after they have been sterilized to responsible ranchers and animal lovers. Many groups are working on solutions, but the bottom line is that it will take years to get the herd down to manageable levels.

There’s no quick fix, but it’s good to know many folks out here are working on a solution, and are determined to make it work for the people as well as the donkeys. Maybe all this rain we have had lately will help out! We hope so, but just be careful driving at dusk especially.

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2 Responses to “Feral Donkeys on the Loose on the Big Island”

  1. Beth Thoma Robinson R(B)
    January 3, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    The picture of the donkey in the yard had me in stitches!
    The rehoming program begun on a small scale is going well. Right now one of our equine rescue organizations has a longer list of people willing to take donkeys than are currently available! The older ones will likely not make good “pets”, but a single female would be a great addition for owners of sheep or goats worried about predators.

  2. Kathy E Awai, R(S)
    January 3, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Yes, there many more groups of people working on this situation now. Everyone seems to agree that saving the donkey’s is the way to go and actually,driving back from Hilo last week, I saw 2 donkey’s in someone’s yard; probably our little feral friends so that was really great! Some sheep ranchers could also use donkeys to ward off feral or agressive dogs. These donkeys weigh around 700-900 pounds apiece. Also important to know is that the county traffic division is working to get new type of reflectors that act like a fence preventing donkeys from crossing between them.

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