Rose-ringed solution

LIHUE — Gov. David Ige signed House Bill 655 on Thursday aimed at reducing the rose-ringed parakeet population.

“(The species) has had a tremendous impact on the island,” Ige said. “It’s one of the most widespread invasive species on the planet.”

The bill will allot $75,000 for the project. A crowd gathered on the lawn at Grove Farm Homestead and Museum for the signing ceremony.

The bill provides funds to the Department of Natural Resources to supplement research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow population mapping, counting, mitigation techniques and ultimately, the development of a control plan to reduce the negative impact of these birds, Ige said.

The rose-ringed parakeet was introduced to the Garden Isle in the 60s and the population has grown to an estimated 5,000.

Senate President Ron Kouchi compared the dangers of the rose-ringed parakeet to the coqui frog, which has spread across the Big Island.

“When we were having the first touch of the coqui frog here, the county stepped up to fund the money at that time because we didn’t have the funds from the state to do it, and our DLNR crew made sure the coqui frog didn’t take hold here,” Kouchi said. “I know investing in Kauai and working with DLNR here will make great dividends. We all pull together on Kauai, and I know we’ll be successful.”

Not only was Thursday a landmark signing to prevent the spread of the parakeet, it also marked Rep. Nadine Nakamura’s first bill that was signed since she was elected to office.

Nakamura was excited, but wasn’t hung up on her accomplishment, as she was inspired to take the next step in eliminating this invasive species from Kauai.

“We need to do something fast because if we don’t learn how to take care of this, it’s going to be a problem throughout the state of Hawaii,” Nakamura said. “And we’re beginning to see it on Oahu, we’re hearing more incidents with these birds and once the growth happens, it’s exponential. It’s very difficult to control.”

Bill Lucey of the Kauai Invasive Species Committee said this was the third time the bill was brought forward and it was due in part to Nakamura’s efforts the bill was finally signed.

“It’s nice to see how people are really paying attention to the invasive species issue. There are so many of them,” Lucey said. “And when the Legislature actually looks at one specific species to take action and deal with it, we know we’re making ground. It’s really going to take everybody to solve these problems.”

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. said he was proud that all parties were able to come together on a resolution for this problem. Rep. Dee Morikawa hopes that the invasive species will stop harming Kauai’s native plants, as well as taking food away from her table.

“I didn’t get my lychee this year. And the person who usually gives it to me said they got whacked by the parakeets this year. But it slowly has been becoming a bigger and bigger problem,” Morikawa said. “When you see them swarm in Lihue, it’s a very eerie feeling.”

She added that from her office in Pearl City on Oahu, she can see parakeets swarm Washington Place where Gov. Ige works.

“It’s a problem that we need to get onto now before it wipes out crops,” Morikawa said. “Lychees, mangoes, crops, we can’t afford to lose those.”

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