Brown tree snake found on Rota

Officials continue the battle against the invasive snake

A live brown tree snake was captured on the island of Rota, in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, on Sept. 3, 2014, by a Brown Tree Snake K-9 handler from the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources’ Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The male snake, measuring 40.16 inches long and weighing about 42 grams, was captured in a snake trap along the Rota Seaport fence line.

CNMI Brown Tree Snake Rapid Responders assemble traps to be deployed in response to the captured brown tree snake on Rota. (SYLVAN IGISOMAR/USFWS)

CNMI Brown Tree Snake Rapid Responders assemble traps to be deployed in response to the captured brown tree snake on Rota. (SYLVAN IGISOMAR/USFWS)

The brown tree snake represents a significant threat to the natural resources and economy of the CNMI. The threat of brown tree snake introduction is constant given the close proximity to the island of Guam, where the snake has decimated native bird species and causes significant economic impacts to such things as Guam’s electrical grid.

Federal and local officials are continuing their efforts to keep the brown tree snake out of the CNMI. Snake traps are being maintained around ports and airports on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan to detect stowaway snakes from Guam that might have entered cargo, ships, or aircraft. This is the first brown tree snake to be found in an early detection trap on Rota.

“The Department of the Interior, which includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, is committed to working closely with our CNMI partners to prevent the establishment of the brown tree snake on Rota and throughout the CNMI,” said Earl Campbell, the service’s assistant field supervisor for invasive species and terrestrial Marianas issues.

A coordinated effort between the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CNMI Governor’s Office, Rota Mayor’s Office, Rota Municipal Council, and the U.S. Geological Survey led to development of a plan for intensive visual surveys (at least 600 person-hours). An additional 200 traps and live baits from USGS arrived on Rota yesterday and are being deployed around the port area and further inland to supplement existing traps.

USGS brown tree snake biologists from Guam are participating in these activities, and the effort is coordinated by the USGS Brown Tree Snake Rapid Response coordinator Adam Knox. The goal of the intensive detection effort is to determine whether the captured snake was a single stowaway or is part of new population of snakes on Rota. Scientists will assist the effort by using results of research in Guam to determine the amount of search effort required on Rota to achieve a high likelihood of detecting brown tree snakes should they be present on Rota.

“We encourage the people of Rota and other islands in the CNMI to cooperate with the searchers as they conduct their inspections and to report any BTS sightings. Please contact the Rota BTS Program at 287-ROTA, BTS Hotline at 28-SNAKE, CNMI DFW at (670) 664-6004, CNMI BTS Program (670) 664-6014 to report sightings of the brown treesnake,” said Sylvan Igisomar, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinator/biologist, assigned to the CNMI BTS Program. (USFWS)


To report any sightings of brown tree snakes, call :
-Rota BTS Program: 287-ROTA
-BTS Hotline: 28-SNAKE
-CNMI DFW: 664-6004
-CNMI BTS Program: 664-6014

Press Release
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