Deer can swim, but not very far. When they showed up for the first time on the Big Island of Hawaii, mystified residents wondered how they got there.
The island is some 30 miles southeast of Maui, where deer are plentiful.
Hawaii wildlife authorities think someone dropped a few from a helicopter on the northern tip of the island. And tracks along the southern coast indicate deer were pushed into the ocean from a boat and forced to paddle ashore.
Whether they arrived by air or sea, wildlife managers want to eradicate them to avoid a repeat of the destruction seen on other islands where they ate through vineyards, avocado farms and forests where endangered species live.
Officials estimate that there are 100 deer on the northern and southern ends of the Big Island. A government-funded group is leading efforts to get rid of them before they breed.
“They didn’t get here by themselves, so the people who brought them over did so and have done it many times,” said Jan Schipper, the group’s project manager.
People have reported seeing deer on the Big Island for a while, but it wasn’t until a motion-sensor camera captured a photo of one last year that their presence was confirmed.