A federal judge sentenced two Hawaii hunters to community service today after an investigation into the interisland smuggling of axis deer by helicopter.
Neither man was charged with the smuggling itself, but prosecutors said their actions introduced axis deer to the Big Island for the first time and harmed the environment as a result.
Daniel Rocha of Mountain View on the Big Island was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for having sheep in his possession without a permit. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi also ordered Rocha to pay a $1,000 fine.
Puglisi ordered Jeffrey Grundhauser to perform 100 hours of community service for taking an unlicensed hunter to shoot game animals on his ranch in upcountry Maui. Grundhauser must also pay a $15,000 fine and will be on probation for one year.
The deer were introduced to the Big Island as part of a trade in December 2009.
Rocha provided Grundhauser’s hunting ranch with about a dozen mouflon sheep that he raised at his small farm in Mountain View. In exchange, Grundhauser gave Rocha four axis deer from Maui that Rocha released on a private ranch on the Big Island.
The Oahu Invasive Species Committee is asking Oahu residents to participate tonight in “Go Out and Listen Night!” to help listen for invasive coqui frogs and report if they hear coqui frogs in their area or not.
Twenty coqui frogs have been captured on Oahu since the beginning of 2012, the committee said.
The frogs are known for their sharp “ko-Kee” calls. There are no established populations of coqui frogs on Oahu, but they continue to “hitchhike” to the island in shipments from the Big Island.
The Oahu Invasive Species Committee is asking residents with smartphones to go outside tonight between 7:30 and 8 p.m., listen for 15 minutes for the signature “ko-KEE” call of the coqui frog, and report what they heard using the free “Honolulu 311” smartphone app. The group is asking residents to report if they did or did not hear a coqui frog in their area.
Details on how to participate, what a coqui frog sounds and looks like, and step by step instructions on how to use the “Honolulu 311” app can be found at www.coqui311.blogspot.com.
Residents without a smartphone can report coqui frogs by emailing the Oahu Invasive Species Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the State Pest Hotline, 643-PEST (643-7378).
When a floating dock the size of a boxcar washed up on a sandy beach in Oregon, beachcombers got excited because it was the largest piece of debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan to show up on the West Coast.
But scientists worried it represented a whole new way for invasive species of seaweed, crabs and other marine organisms to break the earth’s natural barriers and further muck up the West Coast’s marine environments. And more invasive species could be hitching rides on tsunami debris expected to arrive in the weeks and months to come.
“We know extinctions occur with invasions,” said John Chapman, assistant professor of fisheries and invasive species specialist at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. “This is like arrows shot into the dark. Some of them could hit a mark.”
Though the global economy has accelerated the process in recent decades by the sheer volume of ships, most from Asia, entering West Coast ports, the marine invasion has been in full swing since 1869, when the transcontinental railroad brought the first shipment of East Coast oysters packed in seaweed and mud to San Francisco, said Andrew Cohen, director of the Center for Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions in Richmond, Calif. For nearly a century before then, ships sailing up the coast carried barnacles and seaweeds.
Hunters hired to control invasive species on Hawaii island have killed their first axis deer.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday the deer was captured in the southern part of the island.
Big Island Invasive Species Committee Manager Jan Schipper declined to say specifically where the deer was killed to prevent interference with the committee’s two hunters.
The animal native to India and Sri Lanka was first introduced to Molokai and Oahu in 1868, Lanai in 1920, and Maui in 1959, but they hadn’t been found on the Big Island until last year.
Non-native mammals such as like pigs and goats already damage the island’s environment. But axis deer are a new type of menace in part because they’re so large they can jump over fences that are meant to protect native forests.
On the front line of the brown marmorated stink bug invasion, Doug Inkley was overrun. Over nine months last year, he counted, bug by bug, 56,205 in his house and garden. They were everywhere.
“I literally have made homemade chili and had to throw it out because there were stink bugs in it,” said Inkley, who lives in Knoxville, Md., near the West Virginia border. “I have had people refuse to come over for dinner because they knew about my stink bug problem.”
Maybe now, they’ll come over. Entomologists say the population of this invasive species from Asia appears to have cratered in the Mid-Atlantic. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused flooding, drowning stink bugs and snuffing out nymphs before they could develop.
But there is also bad news. The bugs have marched to the Deep South. Recently they were detected in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, where farmers grow juicy vegetable and citrus crops the bugs are known to destroy.
It gets worse. Another type of Asian stink bug has established itself in Georgia. It eats invasive Asian kudzu, a good thing. But the kudzu bug also eats soybeans and other lucrative Georgia legumes.
On a working trip to Atlanta last week, Inkley, a senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation, saw them flying about, attaching to walls by the hundreds.
“Here we go again,” he said.
Stink bugs come in a wide variety. Many are native to the United States, where prey insects keep them in check. Brown marmorated stink bugs native to China were first discovered in Allentown, Pa., in 1998, likely after crawling out of a cargo ship.
Snails are able to survive intact after being eaten by birds, according to scientists.
Japanese white-eyes on the island of Hahajima, Japan feast on tiny land snails.
Researchers found that 15% of the snails eaten survived digestion and were found alive in the birds’ droppings.
This evidence suggests that bird predation could be a key factor in how snail populations spread.
The Japanese white-eye or mejiro is widespread in Japan but considered an invasive species in Hawaii
It is well known that plant seeds are dispersed by birds that eat fruit.
But in findings published in the Journal of Biogeography, researchers from Tohoku University, Japan investigated whether invertebrates could also spread in this way.
Previous research has shown that ponds snails can survive being eaten by fishes but the same was not known for land snails.
Studies of the diets of birds on the island of Hahajima identified the Japanese white-eye’s preference for the tiny land snail Tornatellides boeningi.
In the lab scientists fed the birds with the snails to find out whether any survived the digestive process.
“We were surprised that a high rate, about 15 percent, of snails were still alive after passing through the gut of [the] birds,”
MECKLENBURG COUNTY, Va. — Talk to fishermen here, and you will hear the legend of Buggs Island Lake: A Navy diver sent to recover the wreckage of a small plane encounters a fish the size of a man on the lake’s bottom. He bolts to the surface and refuses to dip a toe in the waters again.
The yarn seemed as dubious as any other fish tale — until two weeks ago. An angler hooked a 143-pound blue catfish in this reservoir along the Virginia-North Carolina border; it smashed the state record by more than 30 pounds and could be a world record.
It is likely not the only one lurking out there. A monster fish that can easily top 100 pounds and stretch nearly five feet has come of age in the region’s waterways.
It has a distended beer gut of a belly, a chin studded with whiskers tipped with taste-bud-like sensors and a grunt like a pig’s. Like a creature from a Hollywood B-movie, it has grown fat from conditions created by pollution.
Blue catfish have exploded in numbers and size in many local river systems, biologists say, spawning the type of giant fish more commonly found in the species’ native Mississippi River — or in the pages of Mark Twain. And no one is sure how big they’ll get here.
The rise of “blue cats” has spurred a response as strange as any fish story. Nearly everyone agrees it is a monster of sorts, but whether that is necessarily a bad thing depends on whom you talk to.
State officials are developing plans to remove axis deer in Hawaii County before damage becomes significant to ranch grasslands, farm crops and plants that are vital to maintain watershed areas.
“We will need to take quick and effective action to prevent costly and destructive impacts on the Big Island that will last for generations, perhaps forever,” said William Aila, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Kahua Ranch Ltd. Chairman Monte Richards said axis deer can cause great damage to Hawaii island’s forest in Kohala and become difficult to remove once they’re established.
“The thing is to get to them early, and you’ve got a chance,” Richards said.
Richards said Hawaii island ranchers successfully fought against the idea of importing axis deer in the 1960s. He suspects the axis deer were illegally shipped to the island in recent years by someone who wanted the animal for game hunting.
State conservation officials working closely with trackers and using game cameras to survey areas in recent weeks have confirmed the presence of axis deer across the island, including in Kohala, Kau, Kona and Mauna Kea.
Rats have plagued Hawaiians for a very long time, and not just the human residents.
Rats were the first invasive species in Hawaii. The first voyagers to the Hawaiian Islands brought Polynesian rats, Rattus exulans, and they spread quickly, colonizing the islands faster and farther than the people. Ancient Hawaii was a world full of spectacular birds, insects, and plants; the only native land mammal didn’t crawl – it flew – the hoary bat.
These native species evolved without seed-eating, egg-stealing rodents, so when rats arrived, plants were defenseless and birds were naive to this new threat. Compounding the situation, the Polynesian rat was followed by other rodents: the Norwegian ship rat and house mouse – hitchhikers in the European and American ships of the late 1700s and 1800s. Rodents ate their way through Hawaii, overrunning the islands from the shore to mountain top, fueled by a diet rich in plants, birds, snails and insects.
According to Peter Dunlevy, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service biologist with 15 years of experience researching rats, the greatest impact isn’t on any one particular area. Rats hammer numerous aspects of the environment – from the seeds they devour to the nesting albatross they attack. “But everything is on such a small scale with rodents; it’s easy to overlook.”