ESTCP 2015 Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Climate Change
Infestations of the brown tree snake (Bioga irregularis) have led to the extirpation of all but two of the 12 native forest birds on the island of Guam. In addition, the snakes have caused millions of dollars in damage to the island’s electrical power distribution system. An anticipated increase in the U.S. military presence on Guam will increase the flow of outbound cargo that could overtax the present operational control methods, such as trapping, hand capture, and canine inspection of outbound cargo, that deter the spread of snakes from Guam to other locations that are conducive to the snake’s establishment, including Hawaii. An ESTCP-funded project led by Dr. Brian Dorr from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center demonstrated an aerial control method deploying dead neonatal mice baits treated with acetaminophen, which is toxic to the snakes, to reduce snake populations in forested sites on Guam. The treated mice were individually attached to four-foot-long paper flag streamers and deployed by hand from helicopters. The baits entangle the treated mice in vegetation above ground level, where they can be consumed by brown tree snakes. Some of the mice were implanted with a radio transmitter for tracking purposes.
This demonstration resulted in a significant and sustained reduction in the indices of snake numbers at the demonstration sites. The team is now working to develop an automated bait delivery system, which will provide for rapid bait release and reduce overall delivery costs.
For this innovative work, Dr. Dorr and his project team received the 2015 ESTCP Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Climate Change. Project Overview
USDA/Wildlife Services/National Wildlife Research Center
USDA/Wildlife Services – Hawaii/Guam/Pacific Islands
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute