New & Noteworthy

posted in: August 2006 | 0

Are Coqui Giving You Heartburn? Maybe a dose of bicarb of soda would help.

Yes, baking soda. That multipurpose nostrum is now being touted by some as an effective way of controlling coqui infestations. A simple dusting on the ground is sufficient, they say, to kill the coqui. Petitions are being circulated at several Big Island nurseries, calling on the state Department of Agriculture to seek Environmental Protection Agency approval for use of sodium bicarbonate as a means to control the tiny, noisy frogs.

The University of Hawai`i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is not on the baking soda bandwagon just yet. A statement on the subject that appears on the CTAHR website notes that, “While some concentrations of baking soda may be effective, the only legal and EPA-approved agents for controlling coqui frogs are citric acid and hydrated lime.”

Some people claim the two chemicals approved for coqui control are ineffective, but CTAHR states that in fact, they kill nearly 100 percent of coqui on contact.

“Occasionally people find frogs that remained alive in treated areas and may conclude that treatment was ineffective, but it is more likely that those survivors managed to avoid direct contact with the chemical solution,” CTAHR says.

Oregon Just Says No to Feral Pigs: Last month, the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced support for a feral swine action plan developed by Portland State University’s Center for Lakes and Reservoirs. According to the plan, eradication alone can stop the impacts of swine invasions: “Case studies from California, Australia, Hawai`i, the Galapagos Islands and the Channel Islands off the coast of California show that management and control efforts, while effective in the short term, have not successfully kept small feral swine populations from increasing to levels that are unmanageable and uncontrollable.”

The state veterinarian, Dr. Don Hansen, estimates that feral pigs in Oregon at present number about 1,000 – the same population that existed in California in the 1950s. Today, Hansen said, California has as many as 130,000 feral pigs. “A few decades ago, California did not eradicate when they had a chance and now they have feral pigs all over the state,” he said. He noted that the outbreak of E. coli O157 last year from spinach grown in central California was attributed to contamination by feces from feral pigs. “We don’t need that kind of risk in Oregon,” he said. “If we can stop it now, we should.”

The plan, available on the internet at [url=,],[/url] says that a full eradication effort would cost $1.29 million over four years, with follow-up monitoring and control estimated at $50,000 a year. “These costs are relatively small compared to the value of the $3.6 billion Oregon agriculture and livestock industries and the investment Oregon has made in riparian restoration efforts,” the plan states.

The pigs most likely did not make it to Oregon on their own. “It is widely speculated that feral swine were intentionally introduced to Oregon … by people who wanted another animal to hunt,” the Department of Agriculture said in a press release.

Another Shoreline Victory: In 1982, fifteen Kaua`i activists and a group called the North Shore `Ohana won a Supreme Court case against the Kaua`i Planning Commission, which in 1978 had permitted development in the open zone on a parcel in Ha`ena. Fifteen years later, the `Ohana, this time joined by attorney Harold Bronstein and activist Caren Diamond, has once again won a Supreme Court case against the property’s current owner, Joseph Brescia.

In 2003, the Planning Commission rejected Brescia’s request to build a home 31 feet from the certified shoreline. Brescia appealed the commission’s decision and in March 2005, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled in his favor. Among other things, Brescia argued that he had relied on statements by the Planning Department that his setback was only 20 feet from the shoreline. When the county chose not to fight the circuit court’s decision, the `Ohana, Bronstein, and Diamond filed an appeal with the Hawai`i Supreme Court.

In its July 12 decision, the court dismissed all of Brescia’s arguments, noting that the authority to establish setbacks lies with the Planning Commission, not the department. The court also found that even with a larger setback, Brescia still had ample room to build a home. While the commission voted last February to allow Brescia to build a house 40 feet from the shoreline, withint he open zone, construction has been halted and county officials say that his building plans will need to be amended to comply with the court’s decision.

Volume 18, Number 3 September 2007