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For Immediate Release:  November 28, 2006            


HONOLULU – Two unrelated incidents concerning illegal animals occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

On Friday morning, November 24, state Department of Transportation personnel found a live bat in a second floor office at Pier 11 at Aloha Tower.  The windows in that office are always kept open. The bat, which appeared to be in a weakened state, was captured in a trash bag and delivered to the Plant Quarantine Branch of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA).  Officials at the Honolulu Zoo and bat experts on the mainland identified it as a Mexican fishing bat (Myotis vivesi), which is not native to Hawaii.  The bat was tested for rabies on Friday and the results were negative.

The Mexican fishing bat is native to the islands and coastal areas on both sides of the Sea of Cortez and the west-central coast of the Baja, California peninsula.  The Mexican fishing bat feeds on marine crustaceans and fish, generally foraging over marine lagoons to consume small marine fish, which have a higher salt content.

Upon further investigation into the incident by inspectors, harbor logs indicated that a Panamanian ship, which arrived from Mexico, docked at Pier 11 early Thursday morning and departed that afternoon.  It is plausible that the bat may have traveled aboard the ship to Hawaii.

On Maui, a worker at the Maui Humane Society found an unattended shoe box in one of the holding kennels on Thursday afternoon, November 23rd.  The area is accessible to the public 24 hours a day and no one saw who left the box.  The shoe box contained a 21-inch red-tailed boa constrictor.  The Humane Society reported it to the Maui Office of HDOA on Friday morning and the snake was picked up by Maui inspectors and transported to Honolulu.  The snake, which was in a weakened state when discovered, died over the weekend.

Boa constrictors are non-venomous and native to Central and South America.  They can grow up to 12 feet in length and have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.  Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii's environment.  Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.  Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the State's amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society - no questions asked and no fines assessed.  Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the stateÂ’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).