Guam – The largest brown tree snake eradication effort to date is expected to take place on Guam this spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to conduct a “mouse drop” over Andersen Air Force Base in May. Dead mice laced with acetaminophen will be dropped from helicopters over two forest blocks on Andersen’s northwest field.
“Around that area there’s a fence right now its a brown tree snake barrier so its a site where there’s a population of snakes that nobody can get into its a controlled population,” USDA Assistant State Director Dan Vice told PNC. “We’re going to drop toxicants in that environment so that we can monitor and document the population reductions where you have no snakes moving in and you can compare the population response in an area next to it where the snakes aren’t bounded so you’ve got this kind of free movement.”
The upcoming drop will be done on a much larger scale than the pilot drop conducted on Naval Base Guam in 2010 but Vice says its still a controlled drop that required USDA to obtain a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The million dollar “mouse drop” project is funded by a grant obtained through the Department of Defense. Most of the cost is due to the use of helicopters and pilots which the USDA is still working to procure.
While Vice admits that mice drops are unlikely to completely wipe out Guam’s population of brown tree snakes he says eradication is the USDA’s ultimate goal and he’s hopeful that this will be the most successful attempt so far.
“No ones ever attempted anything on this scale,” Vice said. “You know to date the largest plot that anyone’s been able to get rid of snakes is only a couple of acres. We’re talking a 110 acres so this is completely novel.”