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Associated Press Newswires

Hawaii To Try And Eradicate Oahu Coqui Frog Population

September 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

HONOLULU (AP) - State and federal officials are planning to use up to 900 gallons of a citric acid solution next week to rid Oahu of its only wild colony of the noisy coqui frogs on nine acres in Wahiawa.

On Monday night, workers will use 100-gallon motorized sprayers to spray the frogs with a 16 percent citric acid solution in what will be the largest coqui frog kill on the island. Citric acid has been successful on other islands at wiping out the frogs.

"This is the only wild population on Oahu," said Scott Williamson, invasive species technician with Department of Land & Natural Resources' Forestry and Wildlife Division.

Officials are hoping to eradicate the frogs on Oahu and avoid what happened on the Big Island.

In 1999, there were just three known locations of the quarter-size frogs from Puerto Rico on Maui and five on the Big Island. Today the annoying frogs have colonies at more than 200 spots on the Big Island, 40 or more on Maui, and one on Kauai.

Coqui frogs, beloved in their native Puerto Rico as a symbol of the island, likely ended up in Hawaii in shipments of tropical plants.

The frogs have turned up in other areas of Oahu, at nurseries in Haleiwa, Kahaluu and Waimanalo, but those problems have been contained, officials said.

In Wahiawa, where the frogs have infested an area that runs from the residential area of Wahiawa Heights and to the East Range of Schofield Barracks, the citric acid will be sprayed at night on trees and on foliage.

The 16 percent citric acid solution is about double the strength of lime juice and is considered safe, causing minimal damage to plants.

Williamson said officials hope to get the coqui frog numbers down so agencies can control the population using small backpack sprayers.

In February, the frogs had been reduced to "practically nothing" in one area by hand-picking, said Nilton Matayoshi, chief for the Chemical/Mechanical Control Section in the Department of Agriculture's Plant Pest Control Branch.

However, not all the frogs were killed, their eggs hatched, the hatchlings grew and the population rose to more than 100, he said.

"It's like controlling weeds," he said.

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