"Once an invasive species becomes established, it’s almost impossible to eradicate. There is no putting the mongoose back in the cage."
The late Lloyd Loope was a conservation warrior who saw the threat posed by invasive species long before the issue was on most people’s radar screen.
“He was one of the first to call for action to deal with biological invasions—he was ahead of his time,” said Sam ʻOhu Gon, the Conservancy’s Hawaiʻi senior scientist and cultural advisor.
Last month on Maui, Loope posthumously received the Conservancy’s 2017 Kāko‘o ‘Āina Award, which honors individuals and groups who have provided significant and long-standing support for conservation in Hawai‘i.
A research biologist at Haleakalā National Park, Loope led the fight to fence out and eradicated goats from the park’s summit, pigs from the Kīpahulu rain forest, and rabbits from Hosmer Grove.
In the 1990s, he sounded the alarm about Miconia, a fast-growing invasive tree dubbed the “green cancer” because it shades out and kills everything beneath it. His outcry launched “Operation Miconia,” a statewide control effort that led to the creation of invasive species committees on all the major islands.
As Loope so prophetically warned, “Once you allow an invasive species to become established, it’s almost impossible to eradicate. Expensive control costs are permanent. There is no putting the mongoose back in the cage.”
In the late ‘90s, Loope successfully argued for expanding Kahului Airport’s quarantine inspection facilities to accompany improvements to the airport runway so that Maui could receive direct mainland and international flights. Today, Lloyd’s son Marshall works at that facility as a state agricultural inspector.
A Mentor to Many
Loope published a prodigious number of research papers on invasive pests and their management. His final paper, completed last December, was a scientific guide for the state’s Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Strategic Response Plan.
Lloyd Loope was a friend and mentor to many in the Hawaii conservation community. Indeed, perhaps the greatest testament to his legacy is how colleagues remember him.
Alan Holt, a former deputy director with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi and another early invasive species warrior, says, “Lloyd defended Hawai’i—and especially Maui—against the onslaught of invasive species, shining the light of hard facts and reasoned solutions on a tough, complex issue that, without him, simply would not have been dealt with.”
Pat Bily, the Conservancy’s Maui invasive species specialist, says, “Lloyd was a man of science with uncanny insight into the future. When he had premonitions about a potential future pest, he acted, preparing the conservation community by writing numerous white papers. He was a true scientist, through and through.”
Fern Duvall, head of Maui’s Native Ecosystem Protection and Management program with the state DLNR, described Lloyd in a single word: “irreplaceable.”
And Don Reeser, who served as the superintendent at Haleakalā National Park from 1988 to 2005, recently told the Maui News, “In my career I worked with a lot of research scientists for the Park Service, and I don’t think there was anybody better than he was. He was one of the all-time champions of Hawaiian conservation.”