Funding to combat rhino beetle is lopsided - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Funding to combat rhino beetle is lopsided

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While Guam received funding from the US Department of Agriculture to help eradicate rhino beetles, the allocation of funds was rather disproportionate.

It has been almost eight years since the invasive rhino beetle was first discovered in Guam in 2007. When it was first discovered it was contained mainly in Tumon, but since then has spread to all corners of the island.

University of Guam president Dr. Robert Underwood said, "The folks at UOG are doing everything they can to help alleviate this, I know that a number of mayors are very interested in it." The village of Inarajan particularly has been investing time and money to research and combat the beetle, however, sourcing funding continues to be an obstacle.

Just recently, the USDA allocated $2.5 million to both Guam and Hawaii to aid this effort. "The good news is that they gave $2.5 million," Underwood noted. "The bad news is that they gave $2.2 million, or to Hawaii, and they gave us about $170,000, actually. "What we've done with it is advertise, Roland Quitugua has gone out and bought some nets, and he's trying to do as much as he can with it, but it's very disappointing."

Underwood states that Hawaii may have received almost all of the funding because the USDA wants to stem the spread of the beetles there, so they do not migrate to the US mainland. However, where does this leave Guam - the island facing the actual bulk of the rhino beetle infestation?

"The question is really about equity and your strategy. If you think that the strategy for fighting the rhino beetle is best fought where the infestation is, which is here in Guam, then I think you ought to put the bulk of your effort here," he added.

More resources would be needed for full eradication; otherwise Guam would likely be working toward containment instead. "I think a few well placed letters by some of our elected officials, not protesting but encouraging more attention to this on the Guam side, and on the Northern Marianas side I think will help us," said the president.

This may help Guam secure more funding from the USDA next year. UOG has also led an effort to create the Pacific Micronesia Biosecurity Plan, a plan to deal with invasive species that should be rolling out in the next couple weeks.

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