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Tree-killing fungal disease found in Hawaii

August 3, 2019

HONOLULU (AP) — A fungal tree disease has been discovered on Oahu, a report said, making it the fourth Hawaiian island where rapid ohia death has been recorded since its discovery in 2014.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources found the disease on a dead ohia tree about three miles (five kilometers) from Honolulu, the Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

The discovery prompted additional air and ground surveys to determine how widespread it is.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” state protection forester Rob Hauff said.

Ohia trees are considered a keystone species that provide a habitat for endangered species and are important to Hawaii culture.

The type of rapid ohia death found on Oahu is the less aggressive of two types, officials said.

The more aggressive fungus was responsible for killing 90% of the trees on the Big Island, wildlife officials said.

There is no known cure for the fungus and it can be spread in soil that sticks to footwear, gear and tires, officials said.

Since 2016, state, federal, university and non-governmental organizations have been conducting regular searches and testing of dead trees on Oahu, with results coming back negative, Hauff said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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