By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At least one state lawmaker is saying the recent increase in the number of coqui frogs found on Oahu highlights the need for more agricultural inspectors to check on cargo coming into the state and moving from island to island.
Three coqui were caught on Oahu in three different neighborhoods during a recent three week span. One of them was found at the Waikiki Trade Center on Seaside Avenue in Waikiki. A second coqui was captured a few miles away on Diamond Head Circle. A third was caught in Ko Olina.
Representative Clift Tsuji said that kind of find is unprecedented on Oahu. He said it is easier for coqui and other unwanted critters to get around since the state got rid of dozens of agricultural inspectors because of budget cuts.
"During the peak of inspections we had about between 300 and 400 interceptions per month. Interceptions per month means discovery of invasive species coming in. Right now for the past I would say half a year, interceptions have been reduced to 30 to 40 interceptions per month," Tsuji told Hawaii News Now.
Tsuji is backing a bill to increase the fee shippers pay from 50-cents per 1,000 pounds of cargo to $1 per 1,000 pounds. He projects the fee increase would raise an additional $3.5 million that could be used to hire more inspectors and keep invasive species out.