• Tue, Feb 26 2013

Why Green Living Matters: Guam To Attack Brown Tree Snake Problem By Airdropping Poisonous Mice

brown tree snakes guam

Pretty soon, thousands of poisonous mice are going to fall from the sky over Guam. And this isn’t for a scene in Magnolia 2. Wildlife officials in Guam have decided that it’s the best way to attack its rampant brown tree snake problem, which were brought to the island in World War II aboard U.S. military vessels, and have been obliterating native bird populations since then. This is just a glimpse at the terrible things that happen when you mess with mother nature.

In pretty much my worst nightmare, Guam has become so infested with brown tree snakes that they’re causing serious damage to the island’s ecosystem:

“Guam is a very unique situation,” said William Pitt, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Agriculture Department’s National Wildlife Research Center in Hawaii. “There is no other place in the world that has a snake issue like Guam.”

Officials are particularly worried that they could spread to nearby islands, like Hawaii, and cause similar damage there.

Which is where the idea of poisonous mice raining from the sky comes in. The mice, which will be dead, will have their mouths stuffed with acetaminophen (i.e. tylenol), which is poisonous to snakes, and not much else. They’re planning to drop about 2,000 mice (officials think this will be enough to control the population, without wiping it out completely), using a cardboard-and-string mechanism to help them catch in trees, where the snakes are most likely to eat them, get poisoned, and die.

Now, plenty of animals and plans have been imported to other parts of the world to great benefit. And in many ways, you might say that our generation’s biggest environmental concerns go far beyond the consideration of native wildlife. But as foreign plant and animal specious disturb ecosystems, they’re messing with things much bigger than our ability to spot a specific type of beautiful bird; they can devastate crops and completely alter landscapes (which isn’t totally unrelated to the “big issues” like global warming, clean air, and clean water).

So in sum: This is what happens when you start messing with nature. It rains poisonous, dead mice.

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