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Mayor Kim’s Testimony Urging Passage of Little Fire Ant Bill

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim submitted the following letter to Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Environment this afternoon Wednesday, March 7, 2018:

This testimony is in support of HB 2046, HD 1, but first I want to thank you for the time and energy that you and your colleagues have devoted to invasive species in general, and to little fire ants in particular.  A year ago, the Council of Mayors identified invasive species as a top priority that deserved everyone’s attention. Our best efforts at the county level are often inadequate to protect our islands from harmful pests, and limited resources make it imperative that the State, counties, Feds, and private sector work together in pursuing solutions to what often seem intractable problems.  This legislature really stood up last year, and hopefully will do even more this year.

The possible exception (so far) of the parakeet problem, it seems that Hawaii County has suffered a disproportionate share of the damage caused by invasive species, including Rapid ‘Ōhia Death, little fire ants, coqui frogs, coffee berry borer and probably others. However, all our islands, and all our constituents, are at risk. My primary request to you would be “Please don’t give up.” As a county,  we do not have the resources or expertise to fight these devastating invaders on our own. We need as much assistance from the State as you can offer.

Particularly with respect to little fire ants, it sometime seems that we have thrown in the towel. This must not happen—it is a horrific species that causes great pain in humans and has been reported to cause blindness in dogs, cats, pigs and horses. We have to make the effort to fight back, and HB 2046 HD 1 is a foot in the door, in the geographic area that may still be salvageable. Please provide as much funding as you can manage, broaden the initiative if you think it is appropriate, and let’s move forward.

While I would defer to others as to how precious dollars should be allocated, I strongly endorse the investment of funds in combating little fire ants, and therefore urge passage of HB 2046, HD 1.

Respectfully submitted,

Harry Kim, Mayor, County of Hawai‘i

HB 2046 Appropriates funds to the Department of Agriculture for outreach and education efforts in West Hawai‘i county regarding the detection and treatment of little fire ants.