WAILUKU, Hawaii — Officials in Maui are investing heavily in resources and work crews to remove an invasive frog species from the Maliko Gulch area.
The Maui Invasive Species Committee is tripling to quadrupling the resources devoted to fighting coqui frogs over the next five years, reported The Maui News (http://bit.ly/2dcQqa5 ).
The tiny screeching frogs are expected to continue to multiply if they’re not dealt with soon. Officials fear they could reach the uncontrollable population levels seen on the Big Island. Workers have tried to constrain the frogs to the gulch but they continue to appear in areas around the island.
Maui County allotted $1.2 million to eradication efforts this year and recently received 100,000 pounds of citric acid to fight coqui frogs. Workers plan to use all of it in the next four months.
“We’re at a critical juncture,” said committee Manager Adam Radford on Thursday. “We have to answer critical questions, and we’re ramping up to a scale that’s never been attempted in the state or the world to my knowledge, so the question is: How will that work?”
He said there’s no clear estimate of the number of coqui frogs in the gulch, but said more than 22,000 exist in an acre. Frogs have escaped the gulch through neighboring properties, plant exchanges, irrigation ditches and other methods.
Each frog is about the size of a quarter, but a single male coqui can produce an 80 to 90 decibel screech. That’s about as loud as an alarm clock.
Committee officials said estimates for eliminate the island’s coqui frogs range from $4.6 million to $15 million. Radford said the large price range is partly because there are many “unknowns” being factored in. For example, he said, it’s not clear what will happen to nearby sugar cane fields when Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. shuts down later this year.
Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com