Over sixty thousand acres of the Big Island of Hawaii have been infested with the Coqui frog. The frog is a native of Puerto Rico where natural predators keep the population under control. In Hawaii there are no natural predators. Thus, the population is rapidly increasing. A female lays approximately 100 eggs every 21 days. The survival rate is around ninety percent. It is an explosion.
Coqui are about the size of a quarter and and a single frog generate 80 decibels of noise with their two note call. Only the males call. Eighty five decibels for extended periods has been shown to cause hearing loss.
Residents of some areas of the Big Island people must sleep with earplugs.
Sellers of real estate are required to disclose the existence of the frog and property values decrease accordingly.
Efforts to the control the pest have been sporadic and inconsistent. The State of Hawaii has shown little support for control. The County of Hawaii has had a rather anemic program that has lost its funding. The U.S Department of Agriculture likewise has provided ineffective assistance.
Grass roots efforts by concerned citizens have had little official support or funding and, in spite of the valiant efforts of those few, the war is being lost.
The effect on tourism to date has probably been minimal, but sooner or later the word will get out to mainstream media that the noise pollution caused by the Coqui has diminished the visitor experience.
Perhaps the financial impact of the frog will generate interest in a government control plan. It is clear that come sort of biological method will be required. This will require extensive research. Nearly 4.5 million dollars in federal stimulus money is going to fight invasive species in Hawaii. Zero dollars have been allocated to fight the Coqui frog.
This is an important environmental issue and needs to be included in this funding.