Permit limits exports of chameleons
Can someone bring some of my Jackson's chameleons from Hawaii to California? I own 10 babies and would like to have a few at my other home in California, where I am now.
Answer: If the Jackson's are for personal use only, contact the state Department of Land and Natural Resources about a permit.
The permit, available at no charge, allows a one-time-only export of a maximum of four Jackson's, per family, said Mindy Wilkinson, invasive species coordinator for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Call 587-0166 for an application or more information.
Jackson's chameleons were popular pets in Hawaii a few years ago and there is no restriction on selling and buying the nonnative creatures in the state. "You can purchase them in areas where they are established, is how the rule was written," Wilkinson explained.
However, exporting Jackson's -- which are on the state's "Injurious Wildlife" list -- for commercial purposes was prohibited in 1998 because "people were moving animals around the state and essentially 'ranching' them in the wild."
In other words, they were releasing the chameleons, then collecting the offspring for export sales to the mainland, she said.
There are "quite a few Jackson's" in specific locations in Hawaii, mostly on Oahu and especially in forest areas of the island.
"The idea of 'Injurious Wildlife' rules is to reduce their spread to places where they aren't currently established, such as Kauai," she said.
The popularity of Jackson's as pets probably faded as the responsibility for their care became more evident. Chameleons "are not particularly good animals for captivity because they need live insects and humidity requirements, so it's fairly cruel to them, as well," Wilkinson said.
"Feeding them live bugs is beyond the capability of most people," she noted. "It's either expensive or time-consuming to collect the insects."
What happened to most of the pets? "My guess is that they died an untimely death or probably were dumped back in the wildlife," Wilkinson said.
Although it's "not really clear" what direct impact Jackson's in the wild are having on the native environment, "Any time you add an animal that's an insectivore that lives in the tree canopy, you are definitely making a significant addition to the ecosystem," she said.
There were no native land reptiles in Hawaii, "period," prior to the introduction of Jackson's and any of the gecko species, she said. Today, there are 34 species of reptiles and amphibians established in Hawaii, all "through human activity."
Domingo Cravalho, animal specialist with the state Department of Agriculture, said that although the popularity of Jackson's has diminished in Hawaii, they are sought after by reptile enthusiasts on the mainland because "they cannot get these animals from the native range because they're protected."
They also can't be imported from foreign countries, he said.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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