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For Immediate Release: January 30, 2003


HONOLULU — A second multi-agency search has turned up eight more veiled chameleons in the Makawao area on Maui. Teams from the Maui Invasive Species Committee, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducted searches on Monday and Tuesday evenings and captured the veiled chameleons, which are illegal to import, possess or transport in Hawaii.

The veiled chameleons found this week included one male approximately 17 inches in length, three males between eight and 10 inches in length, and two juvenile females and two juvenile males measuring less than six inches. All of the veiled chameleons were found within a 100-meter area. Also captured were 102 Jacksons' chameleons, which are alien to Hawaii but established in many areas. All the lizards captured will be sent for study at the Bishop Museum.

"The Department of Agriculture appreciates the coordinated effort to control populations of these illegal animals," said Sandra Lee Kunimoto. "A breeding population of veiled chameleons poses a serious threat to birds and other native wildlife in the area."

The captures this week brings the total number to 21 veiled chameleons found or turned in on Maui since March 2002. The first discovery occurred when a dead chameleon was found in West Maui in March, followed by two live chameleons turned in in April, and another dead chameleon found in Makawao in November. Due to these findings, the first multi-agency search in the same Makawao area was conducted in December and resulted in the capture of six live veiled chameleons. Shortly after the first search, three more chameleons were turned in from the same area. Veiled chameleons have never been allowed to be imported to Hawaii, not even for exhibition in municipal zoos.

The department again reminds anyone who has information on someone that possess, transports or releases illegal animals to please contact our PEST HOTLINE at the following numbers (direct toll-free call neighbor islands):

Oahu - 586-PEST (7378)
Maui - 984-2400 ext. 67378
Big Island - 974-4000 ext. 67378
Kauai - 274-3141 ext. 67378
Molokai & Lanai - 1-800-468-4644 ext. 67378

All calls to the PEST HOTLINE are confidential. Any person or organization who intentionally transports, harbors or imports with the intent to propagate, sell or release illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony and subject to a maximum fine of $200,000, plus three years in prison.

For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560
To E-mail, click here