Big Island legislators take on coqui fight
HILO » Big Island legislators and Mayor Harry Kim planned to unveil a series of bills today that would fight the infestation of noisy, non-native coqui frogs on the Big Island.
Primary among the bills is funding for eradication, said Rep. Clifton Tsuji (D, South Hilo-Puna). "We need money," he said.
Tsuji said he was using the term "eradication" deliberately because in October a state official said eradication might be impossible on the Big Island and Maui because of large infestations there. Tsuji said he found that opinion "totally unacceptable."
A bill introduced by Tsuji seeks $2 million for eradication on the Big Island. The bill says the frogs can reach concentrations of 8,000 an acre and, with no natural predators, could reach total populations 10 times larger than in their native Puerto Rico.
Other bills would require the state Department of Agriculture to:
» Designate coquis as pests.
» Establish a task force to prevent their spread.
» Control transportation of goods that might harbor coquis, both interisland and within islands.
» Request the state's delegates to Congress to seek further funding to fight the frogs.
The bills represent the wishes of Big Island residents expressed in two rounds of meetings in numerous communities last year, Tsuji said.
Billy Kenoi, Mayor Harry Kim's aide in charge of fighting coquis, said the county is already spending $1 million on education, research and eradication.
The county has given $109,000 in grants of up to $5,000 each to 30 community groups fighting coquis, Kenoi said.
The county has also purchased, and loans to communities, 10 100-gallon sprayers and 10 400-gallon sprayers to spray the approved eradication chemicals, which are hydrated lime and citric acid, he said.