If the state fails to provide adequate funding for protection from invasive plant and animal species, it could cost the state more in the long run, state and private agency heads told the Senate Energy & Environment Committee today.
“If we don’t put adequate resources into it now, who’s going to pay the consequences? It’ll be our children and grandchildren,” said Teya Penniman, manager of the Maui Invasive Species Committee, said in a hearing at the state Capitol.
As an example, should the brown tree snake (which has decimated Guam’s bird population) become established in Hawaii, it could cost the state roughly $593 million to $2 billion a year, not to mention the loss in the native bird population, said Christy Martin, spokeswoman for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species.
And red fire ants common in some southern states and elsewhere in the Pacific, could cause an estimated $211 million annually in agricultural losses and health costs.
New threats like the little fire ant, are already stinging people and pets in Hilo and could spread.