Guam Combats Snake Invasion with Poison-Laced Mice Airdrops

The dead rodents, laced with a painkiller that is toxic to snakes, are dropped with parachutes from helicopters to hungry snakes below

By Sam Schulz
|  Wednesday, May 9, 2012  |  Updated 12:27 PM EDT
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In its long battle with an invasive snake species that is decimating Guam's native bird populations, the Department of Agriculture has taken to airdrops of dead mice laced with Tylenol, which is toxic to the snakes.

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Wildlife officials in Guam are dropping Tylenol-laced, parachute-equipped mice from helicopters in an effort to wipe out an invasive snake population.

That measure is just one of many that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has resorted to in its desperate bid to control the non-native brown tree snake population, BBC News reported.

In the 60 years since the snakes arrived on the tiny island, their population has swelled to 2 million — and wiped out 10 of 12 native forest bird species in the last 30 years, according to one wildlife official.

They've also become the bane of Guamanians' lives, regularly shorting out power by slithering along lines and popping up in bed with people.

That has required the drastic measures like the airlifting of the dead mice laced with the common painkiller — toxic to snakes.

"If they eat that dead mouse containing acetaminophen, they will die," an official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture explained.

As officials battle the snakes with mice on the home front, dogs are helping to ensure the reptiles don't create headaches for other islands, too.

The dogs inspect every piece of cargo at a depot near the airport for stowaway snakes before the cargo gets shipped off the infested island.

"Cargo doesn't stop, the airport doesn't shut down, so we have to be there to make sure the cargo going on the airplane has indeed been snake inspected," the agriculture official said.


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