STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2000|
An expert says colonies of the noisy coqui frog have increased on Maui by 150 percent over the past two years.
Coqui frog colonies
spread across Maui
One expert says it is almost
now or never regarding
reining in the noisy pests
WAILUKU >> Colonies of the invasive coqui frog have increased 150 percent within the past two years on the Valley Isle, according to Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons.
"It is very well recognized it's almost a now-or-never proposition," said Parsons, noting that the state must do something now to stop their spread.
Parsons said state officials reported 40 colonies in 2002 and 100 to 110 colonies this month from Haiku to Kapalua. Of the colonies reported, about 20 sites have been confirmed as having coqui frogs, he said.
The remaining locations have not been confirmed due to a lack of manpower, Parsons said.
Parsons said the frog colonies are found in back yards, nurseries and resorts.
The coqui frog, native to Puerto Rico and known by the scientific name Eleutherodactylus coqui, is about 2 inches long and emits a piercing, shrill sound that makes sleeping difficult for some people.
It also threatens to destroy native species in Hawaii by eating them and their food.
Besides Maui, colonies of the frog have been found on Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island.
"This is a catastrophe if these coqui frogs get established here," said Maui Sierra Club official Robert Babson.
Babson said the presence of these frogs would adversely affect tourism and real estate values on the Valley Isle.
Babson said that in view of the amphibian's ability to multiply quickly, support for eradication is critical.
A female coqui can lay 35 to 40 eggs four times a year and could reach 8,000 frogs an acre in some places in Hawaii, Babson said.
Parsons said a $5 million appropriation through Gov. Linda Lingle's administration budget is being requested to combat alien species statewide.
He said Maui County Councilman Robert Carroll is planning to seek $50,000 in emergency funding from the county.
"We need the ability for more response because we know about some of these places where there are coqui frogs, but we don't have the money or manpower to respond to them all," he said.
Parsons' office is offering free 1.3-pound packets of citric powder to residents who have the frogs in their back yards. The powder is mixed with water and sprayed on the frogs.
"The next step, really, is to continue to ask the community's support and cooperation while seeking adequate resources because we don't have a lot of money right now," Parsons said. "We just have to do the best we can at a grass-root level with the communities. The more people that are involved, the better chances we have."
More information about coqui frogs, including the sound of the males, may be obtained at www.hear.org/frogs.