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Coqui frogs take over parts of Big Island; eradication unlikely

November 26, 2013
The Associated Press

HILO (AP) - Coqui frogs have taken over some areas of the Big Island since they were accidentally introduced more than two decades ago, officials said.

The state Department of Agriculture's plant quarantine branch isn't even battling the frogs anymore because the problem is too widespread, agency official Clayton Nagata said.

However, Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said people haven't given up on controlling the frogs.

"They've given up on trying to eradicate the coqui frogs because it's unlikely that they will ever be eradicated from the Big Island," she said.

Residents, volunteers and members of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee are working to control the spread of coqui frogs from the east side of the island to the west side.

They also spray the frogs with citric acid and capture them by hand to control their presence in certain neighborhoods.

The coqui is native to Puerto Rico. In Hawaii the frogs have no natural predators and have formed large colonies on the Big Island.

And while it's unlikely things will ever get back to the way they were in some parts of the island, committee manager Springer Kaye believes the state learned a valuable lesson.

"One good thing that has come out of it is a much better understanding of the need to have a ready response," she said. "Since that time, the island invasive species committee has kept on top of things to prevent their spread to other islands."

Bill Mautz, professor and chairman of the University of Hawaii at Hilo's Biology Department, said there aren't any good predators that can be introduced to control the frogs.

He advises homeowners to remove plants, shrub and dense vegetation that provide havens for the frogs.



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