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Bill funds Big Island fire ant containment

April 4, 2014 - 6:07am

The state House finance committee passed a bill Wednesday that would grant Hawaii County an unspecified amount of funding for fire ant containment.

Sen. Gilbert Kahele, D-Hilo, said Senate Bill 2920 passed “as is.”

The committee did not insert a dollar amount, but the bill aims to provide funding for a pilot project to battle fire ants in Hawaii County’s parks.

Funding would be used to test different types of pesticides for controlling and eradicating the ants, develop strategies that can be used on other islands and provide for a “canine detection team.”

The ants were first detected on the Big Island in 1999, and have since spread to popular oceanfront areas in Hilo, including Richardson Ocean Park and Onekahakaha and Leleiwi beach parks.

Casper Vanderwoude, manager of the Hawaii Ant Lab, previously said his team applied baits with a slow-acting toxin at Richardson Ocean Park last week.

A grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority helped fund the work and Vanderwoude said if approved, SB 2920 would provide a more stable source of funding for future projects.

A statewide education campaign would also be funded under the bill.

The bill is up for a full floor vote in the House. The Senate already passed the measure.

The ants can be found from lower Puna to Laupahoehoe, according to the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Fire ants are also found on Maui, Oahu and Kauai.

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