Control and Containment Strategies on Guam
While the overall goal of the Brown Treesnake Control Program is to eliminate the brown Treesnake [anywhere it occurs] outside its native range, the tools and technologies do not exist at present to deal with snakes throughout the entire area of Guam. At present, the best management strategy is to keep the brown Treesnake from becoming established at new locations. However, research continues on important management concepts and tools such as improved traps, effective and practical fumigants, toxicants and attractants, and on control options such as parasites and viruses.
To reduce the risk of snakes dispersing from Guam, trapping and visual searches are conducted in and around facilities through which air and sea cargo pass. Trapping and other control techniques are also used in patches of natural habitat on Guam where some of the endangered species can be maintained and numbers augmented. Islands of habitat protected by snake-excluding barriers are integral to wildlife conservation efforts on Guam. The use of barriers to reduce snake movements is being expanded to include airfields and sea ports on islands identified as high risk for brown Treesnake introduction. Trapping and searches are also being used at port and airport facilities on some of these high-risk islands. Of special concern are islands in the State of Hawaii and the Northern Marianas, because of the high frequency of traffic coming from or through Guam.
The knowledge gained from control efforts on Guam will be employed to eradicate newly established populations on other islands and prevent further ecological damages by the snake. It is important to note that, while the brown Treesnake has been extremely successful as a generalist predator on Guam, it is probable that this risk is not limited to the species Boiga irregularis. Other species of the genus Boiga have similar habits and characteristics. Many other species of snakes could cause similar damage to ecosystems and other problems in introduced situations where co-evolutionary histories between predator and prey are absent. Lessons and technology acquired through efforts to control the brown Treesnake on Guam, such as early detection, trap design, and portable barriers for use in response to snake sightings, can be extended to future situations in other geographic areas to eradicate the dispersers before they are able to cause large-scale disruptions.
Numerous government agencies have contributed funds and participated in programs to develop effective control programs for brown Treesnakes on Guam and to prevent its continued dispersal. Key participants include the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Hawaii, and the Territory of Guam. In addition to these governmental agencies, numerous officials and professionals from government and private agencies and nonprofit organizations are working to prevent the brown Treesnake's spread into the State of Hawaii. Hawaii has long been subjected to the destructive capabilities of invasive species such as Culex pipiens fatigans, the mosquito that brought avian malaria and devastation to the native bird species. Actions being taken to prevent the arrival of the brown Treesnake include educational campaigns, canine and handler inspection teams, trapping in the vicinity of snake sightings, and construction of barriers in critical transportation facilities to assist detection and capture of snakes that might otherwise escape into vulnerable habitats. All of these efforts are important to protect the Hawaiian ecosystems and their many endemic species from an introduced predator such as the brown Treesnake.