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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donkey Fencing

I was able to get a good look at the extensive fencing done by the WVA to keep donkeys off the golf course. The manager says it is working. In my daytime observation, it is definitely keeping goats out, there were dozens of them running up and down outside the fence. The fence is on the far side of the course in the photo below, not really visible in this photo.

The WVA has contracted with a business to capture donkeys by luring them to temporary corrals. Once the corral has captured donkeys, the corral must be moved, as donkeys are smart and won't go into that corral in the same place again! WVA plans to move donkeys somewhere and also to have the males gelded.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Status: Traffic Incidents with Donkeys along Waikoloa Road

Through the South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee, I asked Captain Sanborn of the HPD to report on the number of donkey-car mash-ups in recent months. He reports there have been none at all since January of 2009.

We have reliable anecdotal data of at least one incident this Fall where a donkey was struck and killed on the road.

Part of the problem with tracking the number of incidents may be that it is not part of the standard way HPD keeps statistics on accidents. I'll pursue this with Capt. Sanborn when he returns from his vacation. Meanwhile, I may be able to find out how many dead donkeys are removed by the DLNR from the road, as they have the responsibility for picking them up. As you know from reading this Blog, it is not easy to make contact with the DLNR.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Persistent Donkey Myth: Donkeys are Dying for Lack of Water

It is very hard for our minds to wrap around the idea that the Waikoloa Nightingales don't need to be given water. Yes, they do need water, and sometimes it is harder for them to find. They should not be kept somewhere with no fresh water. According to THE PEACEFUL VALLEY DONKEY RESCUE, donkeys are so adapted to dry conditions that
Donkeys can tolerate water loss up to 30% of their body weight; they can replenish it in only 15 minutes of drinking.
Which brings us to the question of what does a donkey weigh? To determine that, we need to know, how tall is the donkey? Stay tuned for factoids.

Meanwhile, let's review:

MWN is working on ways to help the donkeys for the long term.  Join us, we need you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

USHS Brings Resources to the Donkeys

U.S. Humane Society now has their Veterinary Director in touch with two Island vets; a very good thing. This is the third specialist the U.S. Humane Society has involved in the project to safely manage the herds.

Waikoloa Village Association is building a fence to protect its golf course and planning to capture many donkeys to keep them out of people's yards. Since donkeys will walk a fence to the end, this presents a challenge. The HelCo "powerline" road is an example of a long, sturdy, well maintained fence that just ends abruptly. The donkeys go along it and around the end.

The concern is that no donkeys be harmed, that they find suitable homes, and that males be gelded before being released somewhere else on the Island.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WVA Manager's Plan

This is the document regarding donkeys written and handed out by WVA General Manager at the November 18, 2009 WVA Talk Story. It gives background and the current plan. We've come a long way from where the plan was to "turn over" the donkeys to "DLNR." Great news!

Update: Oh what tangled webs some folks weave as they continue their life-long pattern of deceit. Very little of this was the truth at the time, and I knew it at the time. But I had agreed to be a good girl and not point out the lies, exaggerations, and broken promises, in the interest of the donkeys.

News flash, donkeys do die eventually due to a wide variety of causes, especially feral ones.

A great number of points were later rescinded. For example, it is NOT WVA manager's duty to protect homeowner properties. The job is to not expose WVA to liability of helping out with donkeys.  The liability of neglecting homeowner is not an issue and continues today the same. Although it could change with our new manager. He's just going with the flow right now. The standard procedure when someone discovers donkeys munching their trees is they call the office, office person says there is nothing they can do as they are not WVA's donkey's (even though they came directly from WVA land. Then office person says they can call me for help. I advise building a (WVA-approved) fence. I listen to sputtering for a while and then just make notes to pass on to the team. People who missed this all the first time around still think there is someone charged with getting rid of the donkeys in their yard, like Ghost Busters! Yeah, Who Ya Gonna Call?  I'll come right over and talk the wild, feral animal into a trailer and haul it away, ANYWHERE away, and not send a bill. I think Ghost Busters sent bills but it didn't cover their expenses.

There was such vindictiveness headed at me for telling people of WVA's plans to cull herds (yes, I heard it on two occasions, once it was "no more than 20 donkeys to be killed") that two community groups I belong to were singled out for unfair, discriminatory treatment and endless bad mouthing by management. Wow, just wow. But, when the "laser beam" of the MEDIA points out the things someone plans to do and has actually done, some folks go into Blender Mode. That's where every excuse and sloppy lies are spun around till goopey and then the lid flies off and it spews on everyone within range.

Yes I'll delete this later, I'm having a flash back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best News Yet

At the WVA talk story last night, manager Jim Whillock distributed a plan to protect WVA resources while securing the safety of donkeys. WVA is taking advantage of consulting with the US Humane Society.

Thank you everyone who has been supportive of Malama Waikoloa Nightingales from day one to today. Please continue to care and be ready to help if we can to prevent donkeys and cars from their collision course on Waikoloa Road.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Donkeys in the News Again

The Star Bulletin ran an interview with Jim Whillock and Pete Hoffmann today.

It is good to hear he means the best.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WVA Talk Story is Back On for the 18th

The WVA Talk Story has been re-posted on the WVA website, after being previously cancelled. This is good news and we hope to hear the positive plans WVA is making for donkeys.
Click the image to see the new announcement

Monday, November 9, 2009

Euthanasia Last Resort

I have been assured by the WVA Manager that the WVA will only kill donkeys once other alternatives have been exhausted and there are still donkeys left, around the village. And other alternatives are being sought.

While  euthanasia is now Plan B instead of Plan A, it is disturbing that it is part of the plan at all.

How long does the capture go on? How many? Dunno.

Thank you everyone who helped bring about this change of view.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Waikoloa Donkeys in the News – Again!

Great News!

The Waikoloa Nigtingales are covered on the front page of today's West Hawaii Today. The WVA manager says no one wants to kill a single donkey. I thank everyone who has contacted the Board and the Manager, and, hope you will let them know of your ongoing interest over the coming weeks and months. A gentle reminder to keep it respectful, please.

An incorrect statement is made in the article: "Since the Waikoloa Village Association announced at its board meeting its plans to build a corral, rumors have run rampant, erroneously stating that the association wants to euthanize the donkeys or give them to someone -- including DLNR -- who will, Whillock said."  The correct situation is since the the WVA Manager announced it had arranged to turn over donkeys to the DLNR, and that it didn't know exactly where the donkeys would go after that, that truth was emailed by me to friends and acquaintances in Waikoloa. Lots of people at the meeting heard this. Only after that email, and subsequent events, did the WVA Manager say he wasn't going to turn over the donkeys to the DLNR. In fact, the Manager had not spoken to the DLNR.  Further, there would have been no ranchers come forward with adoption offers if it had not been in the newspaper. Thank you for noting this clarification of the series of events. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WVA Talk Story Cancelled

The WVA has decided to cancel the talk story for members on November 18th. Our manager demanded I put all the worms back in the can today or he would cancel the talk story.

You may click the image below to see the original invitation to "talk donkeys."


This is turning into a more hopeful situation every day. People are becoming aware that an "urgent" problem does not require a "drastic" solution. Actually, we are "re"turning to a hopeful situation.

DLNR has no plans to kill donkeys, nor do they have funds to do so. They just plain don't like the idea of it, either. They are DONKEYS. (Update: There were a lot of people, or perhaps one or two really loud ones, who think the DLNR should eradicate donkeys, hence Cindy Evans was been approached to make legislation, but did notinclude funding. DLNR testified against it. So did Malama Waikoloa Nightingales.)

We have the forces of the US Humane Society.

We'll get an update on the number of accidents involving donkeys on Waikoloa Road from the Hawaii County PD at the next South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee (SKTSC) meeting on November 10, 4 PM in Waimea.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Action Request

A good deal of community networking is going on right now. This is SUPER GOOD NEWS!
We are asking YOU to contact Board members and voice your concern. Ask that plans to capture and turn animals over to the DLNR be suspended until there is a full and complete effort made to prevent harm to the donkeys. You'll find emails and phones for  members of the WVA Board at  WVA Board Contacts 

Please, when contacting the WVA, remember Board members are community leaders and volunteers who work hard and have good intentions.

MAHALO TO ALL who have contacted us with their concerns and efforts on behalf of the donkeys. The immediate focus needs to be on having the Waikoloa Village Association halt plans to catch and turn over donkeys to  State DLNR Wildlife Management.

Meanwhile, Malama Waikoloa Nightingales is working to make contact with someone at DLNR Wildlife Management to learn what they have been planning, as we do not know. The public has a right and a need to know and we will find out.

Long Term Donkey Population Management

We've had discussions here locally with two representatives of the US Humane Society (at a national level, not local.) One was their national Urban Wildlife Director. With the USHS we are exploring long term, humane methods of curtailing the growth of herds so it does not exceed the shrinking amount of grazing land available to them.

The details are complex and the costs high, but there is some possibility of getting something done to try to dramatically slow the growth of the herds. It is a long term project of major proportions.

Meanwhile, the USHS has recommended that after donkeys are lured to the corral by gentle means, the males be gelded before being released. (Previously, when donkeys were removed from the Hualalai resort area and moved to Waikoloa, they were not gelded.)

All of this has also been discussed with a large-animal vet here on the Island, so someone who is knowledgeable about equine matters is providing lots of expertise. 

I'll revisit this subject in a future post.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Troubling News

At the Waikoloa Village Association Board Meeting on October 27, the Board approved funds for building a fence and corrals to keep donkeys off the WVA golf course and to catch and remove the donkeys from in and around the Village. The problem is considered urgent and they are moving forward rapidly.

The Worrisome News
The WVA has arranged for the DLNR (Hawaii Division of Land and Natural Resources)to move the donkeys by some method, unknown to me, and to a location unknown to anyone. Details on the method of movement and the location are lacking. Answering my question of where the donkeys will be moved, the response was of the "Don't ask, you don't want to know" variety.

There is no reason to believe DLNR will do anything more than dispose of the donkeys, that is, kill them. The DLNR has never to our knowledge relocated any feral animals. They kill bothersome feral animals.

The DLNR does not publicly announce most of their plans to kill feral animals. Thus the public will not know.

This is not to say we don't want to work with the DLNR, we do.

We are working to get more information from both the DLNR and WVA. We have many concerns about the safety conditions in the corrals, in transportation safety and in euthanasia methods.

Regular readers will recall, the solution to keeping donkeys off Waikoloa Road are 1) Building a strong corral and luring the donkeys in with food, 2) moving donkeys, and 3) having a safe place to put them.

Malama Waikoloa Nightingales is recommending to the WVA Board that the corrals be built close to WVA open space above the Village. We recommend the jacks (male donkeys) be gelded before release. From there, donkeys could be moved to fenced WVA open space above the Village. This option has been discussed with the WVA before, but is not now under consideration. MLM is also asking the Board to state that no donkeys will be killed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Have New Sightings?

We've heard from the WVA staff that there may be more than two or three dozen donkeys now surrounding (and within) Waikoloa itself. These donkeys do have access to Waikoloa Road. If you have reports of donkey sightings of donkeys OUTSIDE fenced areas, please report the number of donkeys, time, date, and location to Malama Waikoloa Nightingales.

Call Anika Glass (808)937-2309

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Waikoloa Nightingales in the News article by Barbara DeGrande, September 10, 2009. (this article no longer available.)

Big Island Weekly Article, September 9, 2009.

"A Darker View" Waikoloa Nightingale Donkeys, October 8 – May 14, 2009.

West Hawaii Today Article, December 12, 2009.

Star Bulletin Article November 17, 2009.

West Hawaii Today Article, November 6, 2009.

West Hawaii Today Article, December 12, 2008.

Honolulu Advertiser Article, February 26, 2003

Star Bulletin Article, January 3, 2003.

Honolulu Advertiser Article, October 6, 2002.

Back in 2003 they'd been working 8 YEARS to relocate 30 donkeys from Hualalai, with no success. No one knows for sure where they went, but they were not killed.

Links move around, especially with newspaper mergers, so if something is not working, kindly email to let me know.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Please Donʻt Water the Donkeys

Several people have let me know they are providing water to the donkeys, or want to.

Please do not provide them water. Honestly, they just don't need it. Providing water draws them closer to the Waikoloa streets and homes.

They are thriving, that is part of the problem! With less food and water, their fecundity would be reduced.

If they are coming in your yard to drink from your birdbath (at least two people are having this problem), I suggest you do not put water in your birdbath for a while. If you find the presence of donkeys in your yard undesirable, I recommend a strong fence, constructed within the guidelines of County laws and the Waikoloa Village Association covenants.

If you have the means to provide constantly-available water, food, and some shade for 3 dozen donkeys a short distance from town and roads, please let us know! That is one third of the solution to the problem of moving them. Another third is a place to put them, and I have a potential place for that. The final third, is moving them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

*STATUS* There Will (Always) Be Donkeys On Waikoloa Road

Malama Waikoloa Nightingales is currently at a standstill.

The only way to capture the donkeys for return to fenced areas is to set up a corral and lure them with tasty donkey bait. Even if there were money to accomplish this, there might not be skilled people willing to implement it.

Until there we find someone willing to describe how to build a corral and how much it costs and what it takes to moves donkeys from the corral a short distance to a fenced location, there is not a great deal more we can do.

We'll  continue to provide information and take sightings, and keep our (donkey) ears open for possible new ideas.

After a wide community effort, it appears that the donkeys that escaped fencing will continue to remain outside fencing and have access to Waikoloa Road. The last time anyone got a good look, several jennies were pregnant, so there will be more, soon. (Mating is a year-round, not seasonal, process.)

We regret we cannot find a solution at this time. We spoke with ranchers, our (famed, local) large-animal vet, bureaucrats, elected officials, land owners, animal rights groups, and a whole bunch of other people.

We made a final report to the South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee that includes the details. This was forwarded to the Mayor's office, along with a thank you letter, by the South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee.

No one is required to keep the donkeys off the road. Landowners are not legally responsible for feral animals on their land. Hawaii County is not required to mitigate the hazard beyond putting up warning signs.

Round-ups proved problematic: donkeys don't behave like cattle and sheep. Valuable, trained horses risk injury on the uneven, rocky terrain.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

*STATUS* Why Won't the DLNR Take Care of the Donkeys?

While the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Wildlife and Fisheries Management Division technically can take responsibility for feral animals, they cannot help us with our mission. (See "About" to the right of this page.) Our mission includes concern "about the safety of both people and donkeys."

Contact with DLNR was made by other Malama Waikoloa Nightingales stakeholders, including the County of Hawaii, where they received a run-around. ("The person who does that is new so we can't send him out or let you talk to him." "New" meant several months. "We don't have enough money."

We do get the sense that they care, though, and that they are happy we are working on the problem. They don't want to kill DONKEYS.

We did not invite DLNR to solve the problem because DLNR's mission is to protect native species. If species were threatened, the first choice of DLNR has historically been a public hunt, followed by an aerial slaughter.

The DLNR's last method of choice is fencing. Fencing IN the endangered species, fencing OUT the feral animals. Thanks to the efforts of the Waikoloa Village Outdoor Circle, several of Waikoloa's endangered trees on WVA property are protected from goats, by fencing. (Mahalo, WVOC!)

DLNR usually does not publicize their events except for public hunts. For example, they killed feral animals (pigs and goats) on Mauna Kea earlier this year, with no notice to the public. Typically they leave the animals in place to rot.

Not to raise undue alarm about public safety, given the proximity of homes and unexploded ordinance, the DLNR would not likely dispose of the donkeys by hunting. Similarly, given the proximity to homes, they would not likely leave the carcasses to rot (as they have done after aerial hunts of cattle). However, Mamalahoa Waikoloa Nightingales thinks it unlikely DLNR would announce to the general public exactly what is going on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

For Your Own Safety, Please Don't Harrass the Donkeys

While donkeys are not particularly aggressive, they will respond if they feel threatened. Jennies (female donkeys) are especially protective of their young. Donkeys may warn you with hissing, baring of teeth and stomping when they want you to back off. Donkeys have a very powerful kick that could definitely cause serious injury, so don't provoke them.

Remember, animals respond to perceived threats, which may not be actual threats. Keep your pets and children within fenced areas of your yard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Donkey Myth: Our Donkeys are Kona Nightingales

Here is a video from Big Island Vieo News of Kona Nightingales in the Hilo zoo; you can observe they are smaller and fuzzier than the donkeys that call Waikoloa home. The Kona donkeys would be called a "burro" in many parts of the world.

Lots of people tell me that the donkeys on the road are a living heritage and must be preserved because they are Kona Nightingales.

Well, these Waikoloa donkeys are living, do have heritage, and are worthy of our care and concern. They just aren't "Kona Nightingales."

Kona Nightingales have a historical connection to Kona coffee farms. Many families owned one or more. Once there were roads and people had some money for cars or trucks, donkeys were released to fend for themselves, freeing their owners from the responsibility of providing food and water.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

*STATUS* Looking for Funding and/or Volunteer Rancher

We are working to identify one knowledgeable individual who can and will plan details of round up.

After that, we may be seeking funding, as ranchers are reluctant. Some just don't want to be involved, but that can change with persistence.

May need to call on all members to bring our support to bear upon the efforts, which are nearly stalled.

Friday, June 19, 2009

*STATUS* Donkey Update

Met with leading local vet and respected local rancher. Best approach is a round up by paniolo on horseback with dogs who are used for herding. Depending on who we can find to do the job (no volunteers yet) it may take two attempts over a period of time. The donkeys may need to be tempted into and then held briefly in a holding station, a corral, until they can be moved. They will be fed and watered, if so.

**note: later determined that round up is not feasible, just leading to corral with food and water.)**

**note: still later learned that a corral with a trail of special bait may be all that is needed to attract donkeys to a particular area.

We've found where we can put them and where we can't. (Have not mapped it yet.)

There is ample natural food and water mauka to support these donkeys that escaped.

Have spoken with Mayor's Office, Public Works, DLNR, Fire, Police, Humane Society, the vet, several ranchers, potential volunteer groups. Have considered several alternatives.

Most feasible solution is moving donkeys (and it's best for the donkeys.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Donkey Myth: Donkeys Are Indigenous Hawaiian Animals.

Donkeys were introduced to the Island of Hawaii by immigrants to the Islands who found them useful as beasts of burden, especially for farming and ranching work.

Donkeys were introduced to the Waikoloa area starting with 30 in 1975. There is lore about who moved donkeys, when and where, but it mostly conflicts and isn't going to turn up a likely party to help correct the situation.

There are now about 250 donkeys on the 20,000 acres between Waikoloa and Kamuela because they thrive in exactly the environment they have on this slope of Mauna Kea. They have adequate food and water, from nature, and their hooves need the lava rocks for grooming.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Donkey Myth: They Need More Water

Many people think the fenced donkeys above the village are provided water. They are not. And that's okay.

There is water for donkeys all the way from here up to the Mamalahoa Highway. There are streams and oases.

Donkeys get most of their water from the grasses they eat, even the dried ones. Their digestive systems are especially good at extracting nutrition and water from what looks to us like poor feed.

More water would be good, though, as those streams and oases are pretty dried up. When water is available they will drink gallons and gallons at a time. Remember their native habitat is desert.

But providing water for them at the outskirts of your property will simply lead them to make a nice donkey path to your property and from there, your neighborhood. Let's not do that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Why Did the Donkeys Cross the Road

To get to the other side.

I do get questions on donkey behavior (yes, including this one). I think it is safe to say that donkeys just go where their little donkey brains send them.

Browsing is a donkey characteristic: they are not always eating. (They have slow metabolisms.) They do remember where they found what they liked, and will return to it. They do follow their own trails. But they also just mosey around. Going downhill is easier than going uphill, 'eh?

Why do they just stop and stand in the middle of the road? Well a donkey spends a large part of each day standing and it has to do it somewhere. 

What a donkey does, when posed with an unknown and possible threat, is stand and assess. They can do this for a long time. They will look you head-on in the road, in your driveway, in your back yard, anywhere. They are just going to stare you down.

Let them. The choice you are asking the donkey to make is, "Do I mosey on, or do I charge and kick." The donkey will make this decision, not you.  Why press your luck?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

*STATUS* 24 – 36 donkeys outside of fence, with access to road.

There are between two and three dozen feral donkeys outside of secure fencing, located around Waikoloa Village, according to reports and guesstimates. Looking for people who can determine scope of work to move the donkeys into fenced lands. These are likely the donkeys that escaped last year when the fence gaps were discovered and subsequently repared.

These outside-the-fence donkeys do have direct access to Waikoloa Road and have been spotted both above and below the Village, outside of fencing, on or near Waikoloa Road.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

*STATUS* Fences Repaired, But Continue to Exercise Cation, They Can & Wll Get Out.

Although the area above Waikoloa Road is now fenced, much of it is old fence. Donkeys can knock down fencing; and even get through fence where just one wire is broken, if they feel threatened. As a reminder to motorists, there will always be some donkeys on Waikoloa Road, so drive with extra caution, especially at dawn and dusk. The S curve mauka of Waikoloa is the most problematic area.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Donkey Myth: There is Great Demand for Donkeys

I've had many suggestions to have the donkeys adopted, and that the resorts are eager to protected as a tourist attraction.

I explored both. I couldn't find anyone to adopt a donkey, except for human consumption. There may be a couple people out there who would adopt one, but there are at least 200 donkeys up for adoption.

**update August 2009 - now that we know most donkeys are currently fenced in, we are dealing some who could be claimed for adoption by worthy individuals with a way to get them, transport them, and care for them. **

Maintaining pasture land for a donkey is costly. A donkey will completely eat a small pasture and then need to be fed. Captive donkeys also need vet care. They need their hooves trimmed; roaming around on lava, nature provides that service. Individuals with those resources might more likely spend it to raise a calf or lamb. Or a pig or goat.

The resorts may realize these are not Kona Nightingales, hence they don't have a storied history. The only time, so far, a resort has participated in donkey relocation efforts was when the donkeys were feeding on golf courses and pooping in the yards of very expensive homes.

Frankly, I don't believe that the one time a resort arranged to have donkeys "moved" or "adopted", that that is what happened with most of them. There is supposed to be a donkey preserve somewhere, with a fence, pasture, water, feed, and a caretaker. This was supposed to be a way for tourists to see them. And that was for a very small number of donkeys. Do you know of such a place open to the public on Hawai'i? Me neither.

Waikoloa Donkeys in the News

Andrew Cooper, Waikoloa, author of the spectacular Blog "A Darker View", has posted three times about the donkeys he sees on his frequent commutes to the top of Mauna Kea where he works for Keck. "A Darker View" Waikoloa Nightingale Donkeys

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

*STATUS* Fences are now secure.

Completed fence survey and patches have been made. We now have donkeys that are "in" and donkeys that are "out". Determining how many are out and where they are located.

The County of Hawaii assisted by inspecting 9 miles of fencing. Public Works and the Fire Department repaired a gap in one of the fences. Landowners made some repairs. Waikoloa residents pitched in.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Members!

Response to keeping the donkeys safely off Waikoloa Road been overwhelmingly positive! Supporters come from all over the Island not just Waikoloa.
The fence survey is nearing completion.

Meanwhile, here is last Decemberʻs article in West Hawaii Today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

*STATUS* Fences inspected

With help from an exceptional individual from Hawai'i County, hiked about 9 miles of fences.

In February, March and April we found one puka where donkeys had previously gotten out. The landowner promptly fixed it at their own expense!

We saw where the Fire Department fixed a small puka in the fence, late last December; a very nice job.

We have seen a lot of new and newly repaired fencing that is likely proving a big help.

We are trying to get access to search some hard-to-get-to places to be sure fencing is OK.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Waikoloa Donkeys in the News

Donkeys on Waikoloa Road have been a problem on and off for years, but incidents increased markedly starting in October of 2008. Check out this
West Hawaii Today article.