HONOLULU - Organizations trying to control or eradicate species from coqui frogs to fire ants and fountain grass are asking the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for $2.9 million in funding for the current fiscal year - including some $260,000 to fight axis deer on Maui and the Big Island.
Budget cuts have left the council with only $1.8 million to distribute, however, meaning not everyone will get what they ask for. Further, federal funding the groups had been relying on in recent years is drying up, leaving them more reliant on the council to keep their operations running.
The team combatting pests in Maui County is asking for $400,000 to fight dozens of invasive plants, coqui frogs, parakeets and others. It's asking for nearly $100,000 to fight a rapidly expanding population of axis deer.
Rob Parsons, an aide to Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa on environmental issues, said ranchers and golf courses have allowed hunters to come onto their properties to kill deer, and deer are dying in collisions with cars, but people are still reporting seeing more deer in more places.
"It's still not putting even a dent in the population," Parsons said. A county survey estimates deer have caused $1 million in damage to farms, ranches and resorts over the past two years.
The Maui County Invasive Species Committee wants to study the population to determine how many deer there are on Maui, come up with strategies to control and harvest the animals, and increase public awareness about them.
Its Big Island counterpart asked the council for nearly $400,000 to survey and control 11 plant species including mangrove. It submitted a separate request for more than $160,000 to eradicate axis deer.
Axis deer - which are native to India and other parts of South Asia - were only recently discovered on the Big Island, though they were introduced to Molokai in the 1800s and Maui in 1959.
The Big Island Invasive Species Committee wants to eliminate them on the Big Island before they become established there.
If action isn't taken, the committee says the island's deer population - estimated to number a few dozen now - could explode to 250,000 in a century, given an annual growth rate of 20 to 30 percent.
Lori Buchanan said the council is her programs major source of funding.
"Without it our program is gone," she said.
The council will let committees know what their allocation is early next month.