Massive Search at Hawaii Marine Corps Training Ground Fails to Find Alleged Poachers Carrying Gun, Knife

Training raid at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii
U.S. Marines and sailors move to an objective during a training raid at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Teutsch)

A contractor aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii spotted two suspected poachers at a training area early Tuesday morning, one carrying a knife and the other a long gun, which resulted in an hourslong, multi-department search for the individuals, according to a statement from an installation spokesperson.

The alleged trespassing coincided with reports of "shots fired" at the training area, which apparently did not originate from Marines training on the base, according to the spokesperson. Range control ceased training in the area, which is called Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, or MCTAB, to allow law enforcement to respond.

Bellows Air Force Station, or BAFS, security forces; the Honolulu Police Department; and other base law enforcement were contacted. A special reaction team and military working dog team were dispatched to the training area to locate the poachers, but none was found.

Read Next: Marine Corps Museum Opens 'Respite Room' as New Way to Help Visitors Deal with PTSD

"A perimeter search of the fence line was conducted and revealed no damage or signs of the poachers," 1st Lt. John O'Hara, the installation spokesman, told in a statement Wednesday. "A broader search of MCTAB was completed as well, but the reported poachers were not found."

Officials described the pair as a man carrying a knife and a woman carrying a long gun. Notably, FBI personnel who were training aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii became aware of the trespassing and "shots fired" reports and also responded.

    The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, conservation law enforcement officers and Provost Marshal Office investigators responded as well. A total of at least nine law enforcement entities were involved in the report.

    The search lasted six hours, and training aboard MCTAB resumed at 2:30 p.m. the same day.

    The Tuesday "poacher" incident follows 36 reports of trespassing, vandalism and one assault of a contractor involving "unknown persons" at MCTAB and Bellows Air Force Station in just over 5 months, according to O'Hara.

    According to publicly available policies, MCTAB is the only authorized hunting location on all of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, an installation that includes thousands of acres along Oahu's northeastern coast.

    Hunting rules at the training area are meant to be strictly enforced; those with valid, installation-approved hunting credentials can hunt feral pigs that inhabit the training area, according to the Marine Corps.

    Rules for hunting in the area include parking in designated areas with no off-road travel authorized. Parties are limited to no more than three people, and hunts are "restricted to designated Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from one half hour before sunrise until one half hour after sunset," according to the base policy.

    Related: Fort Sill Commander Fired After Allegedly Violating Base Hunting Rules

    Story Continues