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Automated Aerial Baiting for Invasive Brown Treesnake Control: System Overview and Program Status

  • Author(s): Siers, Shane R.
  • Eisemann, John D.
  • Pitt, William C.
  • Clark, Larry
  • Goetz, Scott M.
  • Gosnell, Robert J.
  • Collins, Aaron F.
  • Hileman, Eric T.
  • Nafus, Melia G.
  • Yackel Adams, Amy A.
  • Messaros, Michael C.
  • Coon, William G. N.
  • et al.
Abstract

The economically and ecologically catastrophic introduction of invasive brown treesnakes to the Pacific Island of Guam has long served as a cautionary tale about the dangers of invasive species and the seeming impossibility of their management on a landscape scale. USDA Wildlife Services and federal and private partners have engineered a system for the automated manufacture and aerial delivery of toxic baits for landscape-scale suppression of brown treesnakes in large and remote forest plots. The helicopter-borne dispensing module can launch four bait cartridges per second, and a single payload of 3,600 cartridges can treat 30 ha of forest at 120 baits/ha in 15 to 30 minutes depending on flightpath efficiency. In this paper we recap the research, development, testing, and implementation of the system, including the procedures for monitoring biological responses to bait applications during an experimental suppression within a 55-ha forest plot surrounded by a snake-proof barrier.

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