Haleakalā National Park Law Enforcement Rangers and Maui Police Department went on a recon mission June 25 to recover rare Haleakalā silversword plants that had been snatched from the park by a visitor. At approximately 4:30 pm on June 25, a park-goer saw a visitor removing two keiki silversword plants from the ground and putting them in her clothing. The individual then got into a vehicle and left the area.
The witness took a picture of the vehicle and immediately notified Haleakala staff who then notified National Park Service Law Enforcement. Park rangers were able to locate the individual with the plants in Pa‘ia Town about an hour later. The rangers identified the poacher and driver of the vehicle and released both from the scene; charges are pending against both individuals.
Park biologists will attempt to replant the recovered silverswords. “We were lucky to have the assistance of a dedicated visitor,” said Haleakalā National Park Chief Ranger Ari Wong. “These plants are already so rare, picking them is illegal for a very good reason. Our most important job here in the park is to protect species like this.”
The Haleakalā silversword or “ahinahina” is federally listed as threatened and found only on the slopes of Haleakalā at altitudes above 6,900 feet. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures of these rare plants, but are reminded that removing or damaging them is a federal crime.
Photo credit: Haleakala National Park