Wildlife agencies meet on Guam to discuss brown tree snakes

HAGATNA, Guam — Wildlife agencies are meeting this week on Guam to provide updates on numerous projects targeting the invasive brown tree snake, which has proved detrimental to Guam's native bird population.

Increased inspections, awareness programs and effective baiting methods are the main talking points for this year's series of meetings on the snakes, the Pacific Daily News reported Monday.

James Dixon of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services said that during the past 10 years, 202,033 brown tree snakes have been captured, primarily in four high-risk areas on the island. The snakes were captured through trapping systems, nocturnal operations and canine detection programs, he said.

Dixon said local authorities are diligent when it comes to inspections, but that cargo transporting boats could be a way the snakes are getting to Guam.

This flaw increases the risk of the snake making its way into the island just north of Guam. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the local government are working on enforcing more compliance with inspections, Dixon said.

Other Pacific islands have already prepared and trained for the possibility of snakes entering their ports, like the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

In Hawaii, port authorities do thorough checks of items coming from Guam and other areas known to have the invasive species, according to Wilfred Leon Guerrero, a military specialist with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine Branch.

Approximately $2.8 million from the Office of Insular Affairs is anticipated to carry out the brown tree snake eradication and control projects for the fiscal year.

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