The Island of Maui is home to dozens if not hundreds of invasive species that include plants, animals, and microorganisms. Defined simply, invasive species are non-indigenous species that invade the natural habitat of another species and cause negative side effects. Very few invasive species were brought to the islands intentionally, but with so many travelers arriving here every year it’s easy to see how these invasive species could be spread. Here are 5 of the most common invasive species you are likely to see while you are here.
You will have to keep your eyes open to catch a glimpse of a Mongoose. These fast-moving creatures were brought to Hawaii in 1883 to curb the rat population. But they were ineffective at hunting rats and began to multiply quickly in the months following their arrival. The Mongoose also began to hunt several types of ground nesting birds and their eggs, pushing them to near extinction.
2. Axis Deer:
These small and agile deer were brought to Maui for hunting in 1959, but their population quickly spun out of control as they began to breed. Originally the hunters that brought the deer here had said their potential for effective breeding was extremely low. There is a lack of natural predators for Axis deer on the island as well, so the only real way to halt their population growth is by hunting.
3. Eucalyptus Trees:
You may be surprised to learn that these beautiful and fragrant trees are not native to Hawaii. They were brought here in 1870 and it was quickly discovered that the trees tended to choke out the surrounding plant life like a weed.
4. Coqui Frogs:
If you have visited or lived on Maui for some time you have most likely heard the grating two-note chirp of the Coqui Frog at night. While frogs are a normal piece of most natural environments, Coqui Frog populations tend to explode in a concentrated area. Their main food source is small insects, which deprives those same insects as a food source for nocturnal birds.
5. Veiled Chameleons
Chameleons like the Veiled chameleon and the Jackson’s chameleon are commonly seen in Upcountry Maui where the climate is cooler and moister. While the Jackson’s chameleon is a native species the Veiled chameleon is not and poses a huge risk to native insects and small birds.
To learn more, or to act against the invasive species threatening our island visit the Maui Invasive Species Committee website here.