HTH: Aerial hunting ban proposed for Big Island

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An article in today’s (5/23/12) Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the Hawaii County Council will be considering an ordinance to outlaw any aerial shooting of game animals at the June 6 meeting. The bill was introduced by Council Chairman Dominic Yagong.

In the story William Aila, chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, is quoted as saying:

State law has jurisdiction on this issue, … The state statute allows aerial shooting, and we will continue to do aerial shooting where it’s proper and where it’s effective.

Aerial shooting of game animals has been opposed by MKRUG and many in the local hunting community.

Hawaii Revised Statutes 263-10 has this to say on the subject:

§263-10 Hunting from aircraft; penalty. Any aeronaut or passenger who, while in flight in, across or above the State, intentionally kills or attempts to kill any birds or animals shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. [L 1923, c 109, §13; RL 1925, §3903; RL 1935, §6986; RL 1945, §4933; RL 1955, §16-10; HRS §263-10]

Chairman Aila’s statement seems to contradict the HRS. One hunter has told us that when he questioned a state attorney about how the State was able to do aerial shooting he was told that the short answer was that the State does not have to follow its own laws.

Our understanding is that ordinarily state law preempts county law. If is true that the State is simply choosing not to abide by their own law does that mean that the proposed county ordinance may actually have some teeth since it agrees with established state law? Can the State ignore county law?

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