UH Hilo’s livestock technician helps evacuate animals from path of lava flow

Ten hogs, 14 sheep, and over 30 head of cattle were transported to cooperating private farms near Hilo and to Kapulena grazing lands.

File photo of Ryan Okimoto at the UH Hilo Farm Laboratory in Panaewa.
File photo of Ryan Okimoto at the UH Hilo Farm Laboratory in Pana‘ewa.

The June 27 lava flow in Puna is happening in an agricultural area, so along with people making evacuation plans for their families and pets, farmers, ranchers and homesteaders are scrambling to evacuate livestock and other farm animals.

Here is a report from Bruce Mathews, interim dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM), on University of Hawai‘i at Hilo staff helping with the evacuations:

During the first week of September, UH Hilo CAFNRM Livestock Technician Ryan Okimoto, State Veterinarian Jason Moniz, (Hawaii Department of Agriculture) Veterinary Officer and UH Hilo alumnus Kim Kozuma, and UH Mealani Experiment Station Technician Sunny Arruda spent three days herding, loading, transporting, and conducting health inspections for livestock on Puna subsistence farms in the path of the lava flow. This involved transporting 10 hogs, 14 sheep, and over 30 head of cattle to cooperating private farms near Hilo and to Kapulena grazing lands.

Assistance may still be needed to transport 300 to 500 head of cattle from larger operations if the lava risk continues during the coming weeks. This can be challenging work as animals near advancing lava are often excessively agitated.

For more information, contact Bruce Mathews.

Learn more about the livestock evacuation procedure from Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture press release.

-UH Hilo Stories