Hawaii officials are concerned about the brown tree snake, a potentially dangerous invasive species that might cause a $2.14 billion economic damage every year.
According to Christy Martin of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, tree-climbing species of snakes can be easily replaced, but this represents a problem for Hawaii because the brown tree snake has already a bad reputation.
Endemic to Papua New Guinea and Australia, this reptile devastated many native vertebrate species in Guam after it had been introduced by accident through a military cargo transport.
Unfortunately, this snake has caused a massive decrease in bird populations and led to the extinction of other species as well. It is worth mentioning that the power grid was also affected because this climbing snake crawled into transformers and caused many blackouts.
According to Hawaii field station leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center, Shane Siers, no human cases have been reported yet. Siers, who spent ten years studying the brown tree snake, stressed that many people were bitten by this invasive species.
Siers further added that the brown tree snake is so dangerous because it eats anything. In other words, it can wipe out all the native birds and other species, depending on what animal the snake runs into.
According to Brett Gelinas, vertebrate coordinator of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee, the brown tree snake devastated a Guam’s neighboring island in just a few months. The USDA invests around $5 million every year on the cargo program to reduce the brown snake population by using trained dogs and traps.
Guam has developed a massive campaign to prevent this reptile from getting close to Rota, by constantly checking outbound cargo. Based on the statistics, over 10,000 snakes were removed last year from several areas around Guam’s seaports and airports.
Officials will invest money in agriculture and tourism as well in order to make sure this invasive species won’t make its way in Hawaii’s trees. Siers said that even if the authorities manage to delay the invasion by one year, it would still be a great improvement for the state’s economy.
Also, it will give them more time to develop the best strategy to deal with the brown tree snake.
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