The Division of Forestry and Wildlife manages invasive species in order to protect Hawaii’s native species and natural resources. In Hawaii, invasive species are those that are both
- harmful to the environment, economy, and/or human health, and
- not native to Hawaii (i.e., species that were introduced by human assistance rather than by their own means of introduction).
It is important to note that not all nonnative species are considered invasive, only those that cause environmental or economic harm, or harm to human health. Currently there is no official State designation for invasive species in Hawaii, though the interagency Hawaii Invasive Species Council is in the process of developing administrative rules to do so.
Due to the prevalence of invasive species as an environmental concern, many of DLNR’s projects include components relevant to invasive species issues. For example, DOFAW’s Native Ecosystems Protection and Management Program and DLNR’s Rain Follows the Forest watershed initiative aim to protect watershed functions in part by managing invasive ungulates in certain areas. DOFAW’s Forestry Program manages projects that control invasive species and restore native forest species.
Within DOFAW’s Wildlife Program, invasive species staff coordinate a number of projects, including:
- Administration of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), a cabinet-level, interagency board consisting of the directors of six state departments including DLNR, HDOA, HDOT, DOH, DBEDT, and UH. The HISC develops invasive species policy, supports interagency initiatives, and disburses funding for prevention, control, research, and outreach projects.
- Regulation of injurious wildlife as defined in Chapter 124, Hawaii Administrative Rules. Under these rules it is prohibited to release injurious wildlife into the wild, transport them to locations where they are not already established in the wild, or to export them from the State. Permits for exporting small numbers of injurious wildlife for personal use, or for research or educational purposes, may be obtained from DOFAW.
- Coordination of information regarding control options for rodents. DOFAW is an active member of the Partnership to Protect Hawaii’s Native Species and is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to describe the impacts of rodent control options in Hawaii.
- Collaborating in Brown Tree Snake coordination through the Brown Tree Snake Technical Working Group. This working group, mandated by the federal Brown Tree Snake Control and Eradication Act of 2004, coordinates funding, research, and detection and response capacity for the invasive Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis).
- Coordination of response to invasive species, including axis deer (Axis axis) on Hawaii Island, and mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) on Kauai.