Efforts stepped up to curb brown tree snake spread in Western Pacific
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Thousands of brown tree snakes are found at the Guam airport and seaport every year, and as the main U.S. transportation hub in the Western Pacific, these facilities can cause the accidental introduction of this invasive species to neighboring islands.
“The recent discoveries of the brown tree snake on board a plane and cargo ship only serve as an important reminder that we must continue to be vigilant in ongoing efforts to control, mitigate and eradicate the brown tree snake where possible," said Carmen Cantor, assistant secretary for insular and international affairs.
On June 29, the Port Authority of Guam reported that a brown tree snake was found inside a cargo hold on a container ship that came from Saipan, indicating the likelihood that the invasive species might be making inter-island travels.
The brown tree snakes caught at the ports of entry every year are removed to prevent them from slithering throughout the region, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The department said it works closely with federal, state and territorial partners to mitigate the brown tree snake threat on Guam and curb its spread to the Northern Mariana Islands, Hawai’i, and other neighboring islands such as Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs today announced the release of $3.6 million for the Brown Tree Snake Control Program in fiscal year 2023, which will be distributed among federal, territorial, and state partners involved in the ongoing effort to manage the threat of the invasive species that has been a menace to Guam’s ecology.
“The partnering efforts to control the brown tree snake have been successful in mitigating its impact on Guam and preventing its spread to the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawai’i,” Cantor said.
The federal agency is distributing the fiscal year 2023 funding to the following partners to support efforts to fight the brown tree snake:
Since its accidental introduction on Guam after World War II and without natural predators on-island, the brown tree snake has caused the drastic decline of native bird populations, causing cascading ecological consequences that threaten forest resiliency and other natural systems on the island.
Every year, the brown tree snake cause ground faults and short circuits that result in power outages estimated at $4.5 million in annual losses to Guam’s economy, while toxins from brown tree snake bites also present health and safety concerns for infants and young children.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center estimates that the accidental introduction of brown tree snake to Hawai’i could result in between $593 million and $2.14 million in annual economic damage.