|Those wanting to
wage a war against the coquis consider the frogs an
invasive species. An invasive species, by definition, is
an alien species that is, or is likely to become, a
threat to the environment, economy, or human health. Why
do they consider the coqui frogs invasive? Here is their
reasoning, along with opposing arguments:
frogs will eat too many insects, depriving native birds
On the other hand, nobody has
shown a shortage of insects in Hawaii. And the frogs
they are trying to kill are not living near endangered
In addition, coqui frogs begin life as tiny froglets, only a few millimeters in size. These are perfect food for insect eating birds. In fact, birds are known to be one of the primary predators of coquis.
frogs have no predators and will over-populate. Further,
rats and mongooses will eat the frogs, increasing the
populations of these invasive mammals.
If rats and mongooses eat the
frogs, then there are predators for the frogs. And rats
and mongooses already have plenty of food, so adding
frogs to their diet would not increase their numbers.
In addition to rats and mongooses and insectivorous birds eating coquis in Hawaii, we also have bats, which are known predators of coquis. The endangered Hawaiian Hoary Bat is the type of bat that would eat coquis, since it is a gleaner (referring to its habit of feeding among tree tops where the coquis are.) Many people in Hawaii who have coquis have reported increased numbers of bats.
frogs will eat endangered Hawaiian insects.
The frogs will be eating
invasive insects that compete with endangered insects.
So the frogs can make it easier for endangered insects
to survive. Also, there are no endangered insects where
the frogs are currently located.
frogs will hurt Hawaiian agricultural exports because of
the need for frog quarantine, damaging the economy.
The only place where they worry
about coquis is here, in Hawaii. The frogs do not affect
exports to the U.S. Mainland. So the economic damage is
caused by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s
desire to limit the spread of coquis in Hawaii. If they
stopped the quarantine, and let the frogs spread
throughout the Islands, (as almost everyone agrees they
ultimately will do anyway), there would be no economic
impact on agriculture.
frogs are loud and a noise nuisance, comparable to the
sound of a lawn mower or table saw.
This is a value judgment, not a
scientific statement. Some birds and insects are just as
loud as the coqui, which are better comparisons than a
lawnmower or table saw. Some people love their sound.
frogs keep some people awake at night, causing health
Some people sleep happily to
the sound of coqui frogs. And despite the populations of
coquis throughout the Caribbean, there has never been a
medical study to suggest that the frogs’ sound is a
health risk. However, telling the public that the frogs
will keep them awake will create sleepless nights for
some people who are easily suggestible. So the cause of
sleepless nights and health troubles is not the frogs,
but negative attitudes about the frogs, and an
expectation that they will keep people awake. Of course,
for those unaccustomed to their sound, it may take some
time getting used to the frogs’ song. But a negative
attitude will make it more difficult to get used to
Here are some arguments for
considering the coqui frogs a beneficial species:
The frogs eat insect pests,
including the mosquito, which can carry dengue fever and
malaria, termites, centipedes, caterpillars, tree
borers, leafhoppers and other pests.
The frogs’ musical sound adds
to the tropical ambiance of the nights, and helps drown
out the sound of traffic, generators, barking dogs, and
other nuisance sounds.
The coqui frogs are
interesting, cute, exotic animals that tourists can find
fascinating to see and hear.
As tree frogs are threatened
with extinction throughout the world, Hawaii can become
a haven for these endangered animals.
We would all agree that fire
ants, stinging caterpillars, scorpions, black widows,
and brown tree snakes are invasive pests. But tree frogs
are different. As you can see, it’s all a matter of
opinion whether the coqui is invasive or beneficial.
The question is whether the
government is justified in declaring war against the
frogs, even at the expense of the environment, our
economy, and our health? Shouldn’t limited resources
and manpower be used to fight clearly invasive species,
instead of trying to kill harmless tree frogs?