Admired ag inspector turns in his badge

After 30 years of protecting native animals and plants, the head of Hawaii’s agricultural inspection operation leaves behind a short-handed and beleaguered team today, worried that invading species are slipping into the islands.

“Shipments are backed up but are still being inspected. That’s the good part,” said Domingo Cravalho Jr., who is retiring as inspection and compliance section chief for the state Department of Agriculture. “Because of the lack of resources and lack of inspectors and the reduction in the amount of good inspections, things are getting through. …

“It’s overwhelming at times and some individuals may be overlooking things or bypassing things. Under the circumstances, we just don’t have enough eyes and ears out there.”

You better watch out … for invasive species — Pacific Daily News

These beautiful winged animals were all over this island.

Then, the brown tree snake entered and changed our ecosystem forever. Most of the birds that were found only on Guam will never be seen again. They are gone forever because of one invasive animal.

Christmas opens the door for more invasive animals to show up on Guam.

Last week employees at Cost-U-Lessfound a tree frog that wasn’t supposed to be on Guam hiding in a Christmas tree. The poor little frog didn’t know he was doing anything wrong. He was just hiding.

His presence on the Christmas tree brings up a very real threat to Guam’s environment. Any time a new animal enters the ecosystem, it has an impact.

Funds Located May Prevent Agriculture Cuts – KITV Honolulu

HONLULU — The head of the state agriculture department said Wednesday she’s located funds to cut in half the number of agriculture inspectors who may be laid off because of the state’s budget crisis.

The Lingle administration plans to use money from a new user fee that the governor tried to veto two years ago.

In August, the state notified 50 agriculture inspectors they could be laid off — that’s two-thirds of the staff who check Christmas Trees and incoming produce for invasive pests like snakes and insects.

The farming industry is upset, because a lack of inspectors will slow down outgoing shipments of everything from corn seed to fish grown in aquaculture operations.

The Chairperson of the State Agriculture Department said she plans to use money from two funds to cut the amount of layoffs in half to 25 inspectors.

"That would give us some breathing room as we continue to look for more funds and at least to stave off the initial layoffs during this period," said state agriculture chairwoman Sandra Kunimoto.