Hunters will be allowed to take aim at stray cattle next month in an effort to protect Hawaii's forest reserves.

The state has worked with ranchers on the Big Island to fix their fences, but more than 100 cows are wandering the area that stretches along the Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge (search).

"Cattle pose a major threat to our native forests," said Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (search), which regulates the hunts. "They remove the native understory vegetation, allowing alien weeds to move in and take over the native forest."

On Nov. 5, the state will open the hunts on "feral and trespass" cattle found in the Hilo (search) watershed area each weekend and through Nov. 26.

Each licensed hunter will be permitted to kill and remove two cattle per day, with no season limit.