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For Immediate Release: January 27, 2003


HONOLULU - A bearded dragon, an illegal lizard in Hawaii, was found near Wilhemina Rise by a tree-trimming crew last Thursday. The owner of the property on Maunahilu Place turned the lizard over to the Hawaiian Humane Society on Friday and was picked up by an inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA).

The owner of the property told agriculture officials that the tree-trimming crew was chipping freshly cut branches of a monkeypod tree when they captured the 10-inch-long lizard, which was on one of the branches on the ground.

A photo opportunity of the lizard is scheduled for this morning between 10:30 a.m. at the Plant Quarantine Branch, 1849 Auiki Street near Sand Island.

"This capture is particularly disturbing since it is the first report of a bearded dragon being caught in the wild in Hawaii," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, chairperson for HDOA. "We urge anyone that may have illegal animals to turn them in under amnesty rather than releasing them."

Bearded dragons are illegal for individuals to transport or possess in Hawaii. These lizards are native to central Australia and are common in the pet trade on the mainland. They may grow up to two feet in length and their diet consists of insects, flowers, fruit and vegetable matter. Larger adults may also consume small rodents and invertebrates.

Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail. Individuals with illegal pets are encouraged to voluntarily turn them in under the department's Amnesty Program, which offers immunity from prosecution. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department's PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).

For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560
[email protected]