What to do if you find an Invasive Species in Hawaii

In the past year I have had a lot of inquiries about what someone should do if they find an invasive species in Hawaii.  Its always hard for me to tell someone what to do. Clearly many invasive species have overrun the islands and extermination would be impossible.  In an email dialogue between a resident and I we got this email back from the Hawaiian Invasive Species group.


Sorry, about the delayed response. Our office is open only on the weekdays 7-4pm. About your new visitor the cane toad, Rob is correct that these frogs are already established across the Hawaiian Islands and have become a major pest in other parts of the world.

The white secretion coming out of its back is an extremely toxic chemical that is harmful to whoever comes into contact with it. This is the toad’s only line of defense against predators and a pretty good one at that. If you ever come across any reptile or amphibian that doesn’t move or seems not at all afraid of you, chances
are its poisonous.

As for our organizations role with invasive species, we realize that there is a whole heap of pests that are already established in Hawaii. To get rid of any of these pests would take take an incredible amount of time and resources, especially for cane toads. Our focus at Oahu Invasive Species Committee is to eradicate invasive species that are not well-established on the island and prevent and control others from becoming established.

We have been extremely successful with our program. You can look at our website and check out our number 1 target which is Miconia. We have been able to keep this horrible plant for completely taking over the
Koolau’s. We have also eradicated several populations of coqui frog on Oahu and without that effort we would probably sound like Big Island.

So while I cannot speak for other organizations, but ours has made an major impact on lessening the impact of invasive species on the islands. If you haven’t seen or heard any of our targets in the forest then we’re doing our job.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion and I greatly appreciate your inquire about the cane toads. We need people calling in any organisms that are strange or unknown because we can’t be everywhere at once.

If you have questions or find another pest, you can call 643-PEST. This is manned by HDOA and they have operators available over the weekend and into the evenings.

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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