Saturday, April 17, 2004

Frog infestation is declared
an ‘emergency’

HILO » Big Island Mayor Harry Kim has issued a proclamation declaring a "civil defense state of emergency" because of the rapidly expanding infestation of the island with shrieking coqui frogs.

Kim issued the proclamation because federal officials in various agencies have stated that such a document would assist them in freeing their money to fight the frogs, said Bill Kenoi, the mayor's assistant in charge of the coqui effort.

The proclamation notes that as many as 8,000 coquis can inhabit an acre in their native Puerto Rico, but in the absence of predators in Hawaii, their numbers in Hawaii could reach 10 times that density.

The proclamation also notes that the brown tree snake, which has devastated the ecosystem of Guam, would find the frogs to be a ready-made food supply allowing its numbers to expand rapidly if it ever arrived here.

Both county government and individual communities are already doing their part, Kenoi said.

The interagency Coqui Frog Working Group has been joined by about 15 towns and communities on the Big Island working to control the frogs, he said. A Kohala group, for example, has gathered $15,000.

The County Council has set aside $45,000 to fight the frogs, and the mayor has approved that, he said.

The money could be used for spraying citric acid, which is expensive, or the much cheaper hydrated lime, provided federal officials approve it.

"We're almost there" in regard to the lime, he said.

But federal assistance is needed along with the county money, Kenoi said.

"We can't do it with $50,000 here and $50,000 there," he said.


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