When visitors come to or leave the islands they are asked to declare what types of agricultural items they're bringing with them--including vegetables, seeds, fruits, animals, birds and so on. This may seem like just more bureaucratic silliness--designed to give jobs to yet another small army of airport workers whose jobs appear to be simply sitting around "talking story" with each other while running tourists' hand luggage through an x-ray machine. But their job is important. Without diligence, Hawaii would soon be overrun with all kinds of non-native species and pests that would destroy the fragile balance of Hawaii's natural and agricultural environment.
The next time you have to toss that orange or chow down on that banana before going through agricultural inspection, remember: In Guam, the non-native brown tree snake made its way onto the island (supposedly hidden in cargo brought in by ships) and it flourished because there were no natural predators. Its primary food source was wild bird eggs which were in abundance. It didn't take long before the non-native snakes had gobbled up all of the eggs in the bird nests on Guam. And then an eerie quiet fell over the island...no more birds in the trees, lots of snakes. That's not the kind of scenario that makes its way on to a postcard that says, "Having a great time here in paradise. Wish you were here..."