Monday, 7 August 2017

Drug-laced mice to be used to combat brown tree snake in Guam - via Herp Digest

Pacific Daily News, 7/30/17, by John I. Borjam, 

(Editor of HD- Article is an update on the continued efforts to eradicate the Brown Tree Snake. I believe a 40 plus years battle.).

Once fiscal 2018 kicks in later this year, more drug-laced dead mice will be falling from the skies in an effort to curb the population of brown tree snakes.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services tested its aerial bait drop system in Guam’s jungles. The program involves air-dropping dead mice filled with acetaminophen, a pain reliever found in medicine like Tylenol, to attract and kill snakes. Streamers attached to the mice get caught in tree branches, suspending the mice where snakes live.

Robert Gosnell, Guam Wildlife Services state director, said the experimentation is complete and the agency is waiting until fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1, to begin operations. Education outreach and more information to the public will be available before the mice are dropped, Gosnell said.

The invasive brown tree snake has been responsible for islandwide power outages and the depletion of many of Guam's birds. Gosnell said current control efforts have at least stagnated the population.

“It varies with the seasons, but we believe the population is decreasing slightly because of how many snakes we capture each year,” Gosnell said. He estimates between 12,000 and 15,000 brown tree snakes are caught on Guam annually.

Gosnell and his team of 74 employees use methods such as traps, bait tubes and canine teams to track down the snakes. Groups from the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Defense and the Division of Aquatics and Wildlife Resources also participate in the captures.

“We always have ongoing research, for example looking at methods of artificial baits versus live baits,” Gosnell said. “There’s about 15 to 20 research projects going on right now for the snake.”

The Department of the Interior is making more money available to help U.S. territories fight invasive species populations.

More than $3.5 million in fiscal 2017 federal funds was set aside to reduce the population of brown tree snakes on Guam.

According to DOI, the funding will go towards the program, as well as additional research, assessments and rapid response training in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, other Micronesian islands and Hawaii.

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