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Associated Press Newswires
Federal Plan Aims To Rid Hawaii Of Noisy Coqui
June 7, 2002
HONOLULU (AP) - Residents bothered by the incessant chirp of the tiny coqui tree frog may soon find relief.
Wildlife Services officials will meet with other agencies and groups in Honolulu next week to discuss environmental issues associated with a federal eradication plan to kick off Oct. 1. The eradication effort alsowould target the nonnative greenhouse frog.
The dime-sized coquis are beloved in their native Puerto Rico but considered a pest in Hawaii, where some residents complain about the noise and biologists fear they are upsetting the balance of nature, preying on native insects and increasing the rat and mongoose populations by serving as a food source.
Puerto Rico's government had asked U.S. authorities to halt the Hawaii program. In Puerto Rico, the miniature frog's two-toned chirp is considered melodious and the frog's image adorns bumper stickers and t-shirts. Their name, pronounced koh-Kee, imitates their chirp.
Biologists believe the coquis and greenhouse frogs arrived in Hawaii in recent years in shipments of ornamental plants and were spread from island to island in nursery materials.
Under the anti-frog plan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services agency would combine with other state and federal agencies to mobilize an Army equipped with sprayers, vehicles and equipment.
Wildlife Services biologist Tim Ohashi said caffeine is expected to be the chemical used, although others will be considered.
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave temporary approval for the use of caffeine to control the frogs in Hawaii. Three tons of powdered caffeine shipped from China is sitting in a warehouse on the Big Island.
State agriculture officials recently conducted a test on a wild colony of frogs near Hilo using hydrated lime, which "dries" the creatures to death.
EPA rules now prohibit the material's use as a pesticide, but the state is seeking federal approval for that. Farmers are allowed to use the lime as a soil additive.
The $10.7 million federal frog eradication plan was created late last summer by Wildlife Services to get rid of the tiny but loud frogs that are established on Hawaii's four major islands.
The program starts with $200,000 in federal funds obtained through a University of Hawaii research program. The rest of the money remains uncertain now, but Wildlife Services state director Mike Pitzler said he is confident it will come through because he has the support of Sen. Daniel Inouye and USDA officials.
With the frog count growing bigger by the day, the window of opportunity for eradication is shrinking, Pitzler said.
"The longer we let it go, the more likely we won't be able to eradicate this animal," he said.
Some biologists believe that the frog is too well established to kill all of them on the Big Island, where more than 260 infestations are reported. Maui is reported to have at least 41 separate colonies of frogs, while Oahu has 20 and Kauai two.