State unveils ‘most wanted’ list for invasive species

It’s a most wanted list that continues to grow. From brown tree snakes to coqui frogs, many pests have invaded the islands over the years.

“We want to make sure that people know and have an awareness of the types of pests that are trying to come into Hawaii,” said Glenn Sakamoto of the Dept. of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch.

The latest arrived three months ago in the form of a coconut rhinoceros beetle. “We’re very concerned about the effects it could have towards our coconut trees and other types of plants in Hawaii,” Sakamoto said.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says invasive species are the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and the state’s cultural resources, affecting agriculture, health and our island lifestyle.

“We cannot allow invasive species to literally wreck the balance that we’re required to maintain as stewards of the land,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We know that invasive species threaten our food security, threaten our water supply, threaten the environment, threaten our ability to adapt to climate change.”

The governor kicked off Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week Monday with a strong statement concerning the severity of the issue. “If there is anything in this legislative session that needs to have the politics taken out of it, it is dealing with invasive species,” he said.

Those on the front line are counting on it. “Invasive species is going to be a major impact into Hawaii’s agriculture environment and also public health and safety,” Sakamoto said.

Two critters top the current Most Wanted list. “One is the brown tree snake from the island of Guam in that area because military flights that come from there, the other one the red imported fire ant,” Sakamoto said.

If you see an invasive species, call the pest hotline number at 643-PEST (7378).

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