27 Feb 2013

Mice drop to help stamp out Guam's unique snake problem

1:30 pm on 27 February 2013

Wildlife authorities in Guam are gearing up for a new snake control programme using mice parachuted into the forest canopy.

The invasive brown tree snake has decimated Guam's native bird population, and caused frequent power outages by climbing up power poles.

There are also fears it will spread further by nestling in cargo from the territory.

Dan Vice of the United States Department of Agriculture says the government has spent the last decade researching the new technique to target the pests over wider areas.

He says a trial starting in May involves dropping baited dead mice attached to tissue paper over two controlled areas of forest.

"We want to drop the mice out of the helicopter in a manner in which they will slowly fall and entangle in the forest canopy. Once the project becomes operational it will be roughly twelve months of incremental bait application and environmental monitoring, population monitoring."

Dan Vice says up to 15,000 snakes a year are pulled out of the transportation network, and techniques to contain the population up until now have been very labour intensive.