Aerial Application of Acetaminophen-Treated Baits for Control of Brown Treesnakes

RC-200925

Objective

Infestations of the introduced brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis; BTS) have caused catastrophic changes to the avifauna and economy on the island of Guam. Snake impacts have led to the extirpation of all but two of the 12 native forest birds and caused millions of dollars in damages to the island's electrical power distribution system. An anticipated dramatic increase in the U.S. military presence on Guam will increase the flow of outbound cargo, increasing the risk of snake dispersal. This growth could overtax the present operational control methods (trapping, hand capture, and canine inspection of outbound cargo) for deterring the spread of snakes from Guam to other locations that are conducive to the snake's establishment and spread such as Hawaii. Forests adjacent to cargo areas are the source of snakes that can potentially get into cargo. The current control methods reduce snake populations in relatively small accessible forest plots (4-8 hectares) and intercept snakes from the forest before they get into cargo areas, but they do not appreciably depopulate snakes in large inaccessible forest blocks. The objective of this project is to demonstrate aerial application of toxic baits that will reduce snake populations in the forests adjacent to cargo facilities, ultimately reducing the risk of snake dispersal in cargo.

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Technology Description

For the aerial baiting technology, thawed dead neonatal mouse baits treated with 80 mg acetaminophen are individually attached to paper flag streamers with cardboard on each end of the paper streamer. The baits and streamers are packaged into an electromechanical dispenser and deployed from a helicopter over a prescribed forested drop zone at 36 baits per hectare. The double-ended cardboard streamers form a loop in the air and entangle the treated dead neonatal mice in the canopy where they can be consumed by brown treesnakes.

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Benefits

This aerial baiting technology will assist the Department of Defense (DoD) in reducing environmental and economic risks caused by BTS. It provides an additional substantial level of defense against snakes getting into outbound cargo by reducing snake populations adjacent to cargo facilities. This will decrease the probability of dispersal of snakes from Guam to vulnerable areas (e.g., Tinian and Hawaii) where there are minimal protections to prevent the ecological and economic devastation caused by the snake on Guam. This technology also is unlimited in an operational sense. Although initially deployed on DoD properties, the ultimate goal of application is to all areas on Guam at an annual cost of $2.1 million. BTS operational control has been ongoing for 15 years and will extend into perpetuity unless island-wide control is initiated because the three primary current control methods (trapping, fenceline searches, and detector dogs) are not appropriate for all terrain types. To eradicate the BTS from Guam, aerial delivery must be a major component of the effort. Suppressing the level of damage on Guam has the potential to save almost $2 for every dollar spent on this program, while extending the benefits to Hawaii increases the savings in terms of costs avoided to well over $250 per dollar spent on the program. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2012)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Brian Dorr

USDA National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC)

Phone: 662-325-8216

Fax: 662-325-8704

Program Manager

Resource Conservation and Climate Change

SERDP and ESTCP

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