On Saturday, September 12, 2020 the Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR) received a critical tip regarding possible infestation of the coconut rhinoceros beetles (CRB) in the Gagani and Talakhaya areas of Rota.
CRB Field Supervisor Mark C. Manglona, reported to the scene and confirmed the CRB infestation through drone surveying. Decaying coconut trees and scissor cuts on the palm leaves were spotted via drone. On the following day Sunday, September 13, 2020, the CRB team immediately began dissecting trees, setting traps, and logging CRB findings. Volunteers throughout the week, from the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services and from the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, assisted the CRB team with this pressing matter.
The areas of concern are Talakhaya, Gagani, Poña Point, Gu’a, and along the Oggog stream, which comprises of 978,749 square meters. Rota DLNR Resident Director David M. Calvo reported the following CRB findings: 250 unaged grubs, 411 instars, 27 adult males, and 40 adult females. This new site is four miles from the original CRB containment areas, Tweksberry Beach Park and Papau (Liyo).
This has prompted the Mayor of Rota Efraim M. Atalig, to declare a State of Significant Emergency regarding the CRB due to the impact on Rota’s agriculture. Mayor Atalig expressed the urgency on the matter to heighten aggressive eradication management before matters become out of control.
Secretary of Lands and Natural Resources Anthony Benavente met with Mayor Atalig and the Invasive Species Coordinator Frank LG Aldan, to develop preventative measures for the CRB reaching Tinian and Saipan. He appreciates the immediate and proactive response from the Municipality of Rota to continue eradication efforts at the newly identified area. Secretary Benavente is exploring other methodologies and strategies in communication with USDA Guam and University of Guam.
Governor Ralph DLG. Torres and Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios were made aware of the situation and stress the importance of addressing and containing the outbreak. The Governor emphasized that we cannot do this alone and requires participation from the public as Rota fights this battle.
Collaboration with local landowners is critical to help solve this problem. Plans are in place for urgent public outreach to inform the public of the new sighting and seek their involvement to support the CRB Team’s efforts. The Municipality of Rota is optimistic in containing the spread of the CRB with continual support from the general public, federal partners, and the administration.