Control and Containment of the Brown Treesnake and Other Invasive Reptiles

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A brown treesnake crawls down a limb
A brown treesnake crawls down a limb

The Brown Treesnake’s colonization on Guam has resulted in the extirpation of at least 17 vertebrate species from the island over the last 6 decades. Shipping and air traffic out of Guam provide opportunities for this highly invasive, destructive snake to be transported to other islands and the United States mainland, where it could cause similar problems. Scientists with the USGS Brown Treesnake project conduct research on this snake species, including control tool development and validation, ecology and ecological impacts, and early detection methods. The program has been expanded to include other invasive reptiles, such as the Burmese Python, Boa Constrictor, and Northern African Python in Florida and invasive watersnakes in California. Control of these species is often prohibitively expensive after they have become established. The cost of an eradication program depends upon the least capturable individual. The USGS Rapid Response Team was established to help prevent the spread of invasive Brown Treesnakes through screening, risk assessment, outreach, and training for field response efforts. The Brown Treesnake project partners include DOI Office of Insular Affairs, USDA National Wildlife Research Center and Wildlife Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State and Island governments.