Updated: Aug 12
Invasive animals continue to thrive, feeding on indigenous plant seedlings
The U.S. Navy has identified new environmental foes: feral pigs and deer.
Hundreds of feral pigs and deer roam around large forest areas in military properties in Dededo that provide perfect conditions for a feeding and breeding frenzy.
These four-legged animals have been added to the roster of invasive species— besides brown tree snakes and coconut rhinoceros beetle, among many others — that disrupt Guam’s ecosystems.
The goal is to eradicate them, according to Ronnie Rogers, cultural resource manager for Marine Corps Activity Guam.
He said the Navy has contracted a company to eliminate approximately 1,000 feral pigs and 300 deer that disturb cultural resources in military properties in Finagayen and Camp Blaz Marine Corps Base.
The pigs and deer feed on seedlings, suppressing the cycle of natural vegetation, Rogers said.
"According to our natural resources personnel, these animals prefer local plants,” he added. “So when they eat the seedlings from indigenous plants, it allows the invasive plants to grow even more.”
Roger said simply removing and relocating the animals from the forest enhancement project site is not an option.
“If they are removed from certain areas, they will just go over to adjacent areas,” Rogers said.
Albert Borja, natural resources program manager, said efforts to eradicate feral pigs and deer have been initiated before, but this is the first large-scale undertaking.
He said more than 400 acres of forest areas in Fingayen and 600 acres at Camp Blas Marine Corps Base are now under protection.
“We have a fence that goes around this 400-acre area. The integrity of this fence has been verified,” Borja said. “Once you remove the pigs and deer from that area, you may have some that may breach the fence from time to time, but overall, their population should be zero or close to zero.”
The environmental and cultural resources officials said clearing the feral pigs and deer is part of a 30-year forest enhancement program at the sites of new military projects.
“We are trying to bring the forests back to their original or pristine condition,” Borja said.
The project is being coordinated with the University of Guam and the Guam Department of Agriculture, they said
“We are sensitive to potential impacts to cultural resources,” Borja said.
“Part of our commitment is to maintain transparency with the community by reviewing the performance of the Department of Navy on how we are implementing the 2011 Programmatic Agreement,” Borja said.