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On the other hand, the brown tree snakes that are headed to the Big Island will be used strictly for training purposes in a controlled setting. They will arrive at the Hawaii Detector Dog Program where terrier dogs will learn to pick up their scent in order to help find any future stowaways at ports of entry. “Detector dogs are an important biosecurity tool,” says Dr. Atwood. “Biosecurity is the set of measures taken to mitigate the impacts of invasive species. This includes any policy, funding or implementation actions that help prevent, detect or control invasive species.” Such actions are in place because if someone attempts to smuggle a reptile, insect or plant to the Islands, it puts the entire ecosystem at risk. “Invasive species that escape into the environment can have profound impacts and are very difficult to ever fully remove from Hawai‘i,” says Dr. Atwood. Humans are also responsible for the loss and degradation of Hawai‘i’s rich biodiversity due to the introduction of all kinds of non-native species brought intentionally or unintentionally to the Islands throughout the centuries, including ungulates like goats and cattle. They cause damage when they roam freely in the environment, crushing and consuming native flora. Moreover, land that was once filled with native species has since been cleared for agriculture, development and logging. Hawai‘i is the most isolated cluster of islands in the world, which makes its flora and fauna special. Millions of years ago, for example, only around 250 species of plants reached Hawai‘i by seed and subsequently evolved into about 1,300 native species. The isolation, however, makes endemic species extremely vulnerable and they are especially sensitive to habitat loss and invasive species. According to DLNR’s The Rain Follows the Forest Plan, loss of myhawaiitraveler.com

native biodiversity is a problem because the health of Hawai‘i’s forests is pertinent to the overall wellbeing of the entire ecosystem. “Hawaiÿi’s native forests can absorb moisture from rainfall and passing clouds that condense on the thick vegetation,” states the plan. “Protecting these forest areas is the most cost effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater.” Additionally, protecting native forests not only saves Hawaiÿi’s species, it prevents erosions and mud that slips into waterways impacting coral reef ecosystems and fisheries, as well as reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, native plants and animals are significant to Hawaiian culture—animals, such as pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owls) are highly revered as ÿaumakua (family gods) and plants are also regarded as manifestations of deities and are used for purposes including medicinal. “The plants and animals, regarded as elders and ancestors, evolved unique identities when they arrived and intertwined with the landscape and life forms of Hawaiÿi,” states The Rain Follows the Forest Plan. “The extinction of the unique inhabitants of the upland forests of the wao akua unravels the spiritual, as well as material vitality of Hawai‘i. Like water, they are irreplaceable.” Throughout the years, Hawaiÿi’s fragile environment has also endured the intentional, catastrophic release of predators into the wild like mongoose. The predators were allegedly introduced to Hawai‘i Island sugarcane fields during the 1800s to help eradicate rats. What farmers did not release beforehand is that rats are nocturnal and mongooses hunt during daylight hours. Therefore, mongooses have stuck to a diet that consists of native species, including sea turtle eggs and young birds. Mongooses, as well as feral cats and dogs, also threaten establishments of new populations of nënë (Hawaiian goose) on the 99

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