Mice air drops to combat Guam's brown tree snake problem

Mice air drops to combat Guam's brown tree snake problem

GUAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rodents rain down - in an effort to combat brown tree snakes.

Agriculture officials have tested a poison mouse drop in Guam before, but it's never been done this extensively. And what they find could help ag officials control a potential problem here in Hawaii.

Imagine mice dropping from the sky attached to little green streamers! Brown tree snakes are everywhere in Guam.

To combat the long-time, invasive species problem, the U.S. Agriculture Wildlife Service will use a mouse trap, of a different sort. Officials plan to air drop those mice - laced with a painkiller - onto hundreds of acres of dense, Guamanian forest.

"They're actually dead, neo-natal mice that are implanted with these acetaminophen tablets, and the tablets, themselves, are lethal to snakes when they ingest it," says U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Honolulu invasive species biologist, Domingo Cravalho.

The 80 milligram dosage of acetaminophen in each mouse will kill the snakes but not harm humans. During the air drops, the mice will be attached to those streamers - which will hook onto treetops where the snakes forage. Officials will begin the project this spring in their first-ever large-scale operation. They just know - something has to be done.

Cravalho says, "The unusual thing about this brown tree snake is, from juveniles, they'll feed on different types of reptiles, like geckos and frogs, and other small vertebrates. And then, they'll transfer up into larger-classed animals, could be small mammals, could be birds, as they get larger."

Guam has an estimated two-million brown tree snakes, and they've decimated the country's native bird population. They're also known to cause power outages and occasionally bite residents. Hawaii officials are working closely with the Guamanians to prevent the snake from coming here - Which could be devastating to our eco-system, too.

In fact, a National Wildlife Research Center study completed three years ago, found that brown tree snakes could cause, at worst, more than two-billion dollars in damage in Hawaii, if we had the same number of snakes as Guam.

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