Here’s the Animal that Got Hawaii’s Goat!

Mar 26, 2022 | General Information

Goats, just like pigs, were not endemic to Hawaii, and were brought in by humans presumably to provide a source of food. Each in tern rapidly turned wild when allowed or encouraged to roam and the consequence today is that the land of Hawaii is rapidly being ravaged and destroyed by both animals. If one had to choose the worse offender however, the likely choice would be the goat.

Goats were first brought to Hawaii by the Europeans who settled upon the islands in the late 1700’s. Once loosed on the islands they relied upon their remarkable abilities to double in population perhaps once a year. This was primarily because they had no natural predators, there was an ever abundant quantity of land to inhabit, and the natural proclivity of the species is to be very wily and adaptable and the goat is capable of living within the extreme diversities of the Hawaiian landscape from seashore to the higher altitudes on the great mountains found here. Being both sure footed and agile they are also quite capable of residing on the most treacherous of hillsides and escarpments where other large mammals are reluctant to travel.

Unlike the pig which is an omnivore, the goat is a classic herbivore and as such does a remarkable job in both eating and trampling the various Hawaiian groundcovers. Because the majority of Hawaiian flora had been protected for so many centuries from severe grazing animals such as these they were not particularly suited to the ravages they endured at the hooves of these athletic invaders. Not bouncing right back was a trait associated with these Hawaiian plants and a double insult was endured when the goats would not only damage the foliage but would bring into their environment newer invasive species recently brought to the islands and then carried by the goats on their exterior or within their bowels to further challenge the existing plants.
Eventually all of the major Hawaiian Islands became prey to the goat and today it is only on the island of Lanai that wild or feral goats have been routed out.