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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Operational control of the brown tree snake on Guam


An operational control program for brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) on Guam began in April 1993. The program focused on minimizing the dispersal of brown tree snakes to other Pacific islands and the U.S. mainland. During the first year of operation, more than 3,000 snakes were caught within a kilometer of high risk port facilities using traps, detector dogs, and spotlighting. Additionally, habitat modifications and prey-base removal were used to reduce the attractiveness of these facilities to brown tree snakes. Public awareness was also an important part of the program such as the education of cargo packers, shippers, and Customs inspectors who could further minimize brown tree snake dispersal off-island. Initial control efforts in the program became more efficient with the recognition of brown tree snake characteristics, i.e., it was discovered that perimeter trapping a 5 ha patch of jungle was sufficient to remove most snakes instead of saturating the area with traps.

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