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Invasive species wreak havoc on Guam's ecosystem

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Studies show they're the second biggest cause of extinctions. And here at home, we're seeing the impacts of invasive species full throttle. They're killing off our island's birds, trees, and we could soon see even greater environmental impacts.  

The coconut rhinoceros beetle, the brown tree snake, the little fire ant, and feral pigs. What do they all have in common? They're wreaking havoc on Guam's ecosystem.

"Invasive species are, for example, the coconut rhinoceros beetle, the little fire ants. And other pest that actually impact our economy, our crops, our livelihood, our public health," said Matt Sablan, director of the Department of Agriculture. And keeping other invasive species out of Guam's borders continues to be top priority for the agency's Biosecurity Division. According to Sablan, the division inspects all incoming plant and animal cargo.

"The Biosecurity Division was actually through Public Law 31-43. And it was passed back in 2011. What it does is it mandates for our division to combat invasive species coming into our island. It mandates for staffing of an entomologist and invasive species coordinator and administrative positions," he said.

The hope is to continue to grow the division as the law also provides for an invasive species fund. According to Sablan, all cargo coming into Guam's borders are taxed $0.75 per ton. "We're hoping that with the revenues generated from the Invasive Species Fund to actually with those revenues to start hiring to increase our manpower to that division," he confirmed.

As recent as this month, they responded to a report of a black widow spider along the Okkodo pipeline. The report was called into the division by a truck driver who noticed the venomous spider. As we reported, a biosecurity team was deployed to the site and fortunately no other spiders were discovered.

Sablan says this should be an example for other residents to be cognizant of invasive species, adding, "When you do identify and you're not sure what the species is, give us a call."

The number to call is 475-PEST (7378).

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