CAREGIVERS: The Coltons rescued more than 100 animals at their farm in Waimanalo, but they are in jeopardy of losing that property because of a government dispute.
By Malia Zimmerman |Watchdog.org
HONOLULU — A 10-year battle in state court over a 120-acre commercial property in Waimanalo is coming to an end, but an animal farm that’s home to more than 100 abandoned animals and birds may fall as a result.
The property, owned by the state Department of Hawaiian Homelands, has been leased commercially by state to the Correa Ranch.
Hawaiian Homelands says Correa Ranch has been in violation of its lease because the leaseholders have built nine unauthorized structures, graded the property without a permit and conducted unauthorized commerical activities on the property, mainly hosting weddings.
While the department and state sheriffs to serve Correa’s owners an eviction notice on Sept.25, the community is rallying to preserve a 5-acre roadside animal farm on a corner of the property.
Claude Colton, the nephew of the ranch owners, didn’t plan to establish an animal farm on the site. He left his pet pig inside a fenced area along side Kalanianaole Highway, a main thoroughfare around the east side of Oahu.
When Colton returned to feed his pig a short time later, someone had left a second pig for him to care for.
Then a wild pig came down from the mountain and made his home there.
During the past five years, Hawaii residents from Oahu and Hawaii Island who could not care for their sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, cows, geese, turkeys, rabbits, guinea hens and birds of all varieties have dropped off them at the farm.
Animals that live in the steep mountain range behind the farm also made their way down there, and now more than 100 animals call the Waimanalo Animal Farm home.
The animal farm has become an important part of the community, Colton said in an interview with Watchdog.org. Visitors from around the world have stopped by to see the animals.
Many residents bring their children and grandchildren to feed the animals or learn about them.
He also takes the animals to public and private schools that request a visit, so there is an educational component to the farm.
Sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, cows, geese, turkeys, rabbits, guinea hens and many other birds of all varieties, now live at the farm
Claude Colton’s wife, MaryRose, said another component of the farm is to educate individuals on the importance of old Hawaiian ways of farming.
“We enjoy teaching about caring for the land and farm animals,” she said.
“We have received many of God’s creatures through neglect of owners, some have been dropped as well as rescued. The farm is run solely on community contributions. We do not make any money of this farm.”
Passersby make donations to the small operation so Colton can buy food for their menagerie.
The Department of Hawaiian Homelands, however, does not plan to let the Correas or Colton stay on the property. The deadline to vacate is this weekend.
The Coltons said they are unsure where to relocate the farm animals.
The community is rallying to keep the farm in place, calling and writing to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and posting request on the agency’s Facebook page.
MaryRose Colton said the farm has been overwhelmed by “the support and prayers flooding in.”
State Rep. Chris Lee, a Democrat who represents Waimanalo and Kailua, said he is doing what he can to help Colton find an alternative site for the animal farm.
Lee said he is optimistic, but said realistically, the search and relocation of the farm could take some time.