In the North Pacific Ocean, several thousand miles West of Hawaii and East of the Philippines, lies the small island of Guam. In Guam, mice laced with acetaminophen are being air-dropped to control brown tree snakes.
The US Department of Agriculture’s plan is this: air drop the dead mice, which the snakes will eat, and then the acetaminophen can kill some of the snakes. Why? Because there are so many tree snakes on Guam. And there is concern that the snakes might hitchhike on a plane at the island’s Andersen Air Force Base.
In fact, before World War II (WWII) there were no brown tree snakes on Guam. Guam was full of a wide variety of bird species. Then, during WWII some of the brown tree snakes hitched rides to Guam on US cargo boats along with military supplies. The brown tree snakes ate just about every bird on Guam and multiplied. In recent years, the snakes seem to hang from every tree and the USDA feels steps to control the snakes must be taken.
The dead mice, stuffed with acetaminophen and reportedly wearing small parachutes, are dropped from helicopters. The parachutes snag on tree branches, minimizing the chance the mice will drop to the ground and harm other predators.
While depleting the brown tree snake population will not bring back Guam’s diverse bird population, it is a step the USDA feels may avert future issues with snakes reaching other places where Andersen Air Force Base’s planes fly.