The federal government is perpetuating the lies being told. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service “Palila have been negatively affected by the dwindling supply of māmane seeds and fewer choices for nesting. As a result, they are struggling to survive.”
Looking at that statement one would think that there were very few trees available for nesting and that there were so few trees that the birds were starving to death. Anyone who visits the mountain can see that there are literally thousands of trees and they are covered in seeds.
Having walked the entire critical habitat from side to side and top to bottom, I would estimate that less than 1% of the trees have been affected in any way by the sheep. The only effect that the sheep have on the trees is that they eat the lower branches and some of the bark but this does not kill the tree.
Of the few trees that show signs of sheep feeding, they still have a huge abundance of seeds on the upper branches and there are ample nesting areas. In fact the USGS did a study that found that there was a total of 1.5 million mamane trees and more than 900,000 we producing good seeds.
This eradication is based on exterior politics and special interest groups whose goal is sheep removal rather than palila bird preservation. This can be seen by the depth of the studies being done. There are many maps showing the historic range of the palila but no one can tell why they are only in a fraction of that range now.
With the military blasting ordinance below on a daily basis, Mauna Kea experiencing record drought, massive telescopes topping the mountain, many introduced plants and insects and a warming planet, it would make sense to consider all of these factors but it has been done in a few studies that have been completely ignored by the eradication "experts".
These studies show that through an intruduced root fungus known as Armillaria Mellea and various insect parasites there are many factors that are not even being taken into account about there effect on the sheep. The bottom line of all of this is that with all of the factors that are out there, only one is being considered and eradicated. Of that one factor, no studies have been done on if sheep browsing has effected the amount of mamane trees on the mountain.
*[Conservation Biology of Hawaiian Forest Birds Implications for Island avifauna] Sylvester, Tony, 2013.
The finger has been pointed at the sheep even with scientific observation, there is no evidence to suggest that there is any correlation between the two populations. All of the money that is pushing for the eradication is coming from out of state special interest groups that clearly do not value the preservation of the mountain.
Why do they want to remove sheep from the mountain? One can only speculate, but by all indications the goal in all of this is sheep removal rather than palila bird preservation.