The Department of Lands and Natural Resources recently received notification of its grant award from the Office of Insular Affair’s Brown Treesnake Control Program. The $469,000 grant award will support the program activities of the DFW Brown Treesnake Programs on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.
The DFW Brown Treesnake Program has been dedicated to preventing the introduction of the brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) in the CNMI. Due to the CNMI’s immediate proximity to Guam, the brown treesnake represents an ever-present threat to the native fauna of the CNMI. Guam has seen its forest bird and lizard faunas decimated by the brown tree snake. The CNMI is home to 20 species of native forest birds and lizards, 10 of which are endemic species, and 5 of which are listed species. The negative impacts the brown treesnake would have on the unique biodiversity of the CNMI are clear and fully disheartening. The negative impacts would reach beyond the realm of biodiversity.
The BTS program prevention activities include inspecting incoming cargo with detector dogs, monitoring all ports of entry with BTS specific traps, public outreach, and responding to snake sightings of reported brown treesnakes. The CNMI receives over 200 commercial flights from Guam each month, and these airplanes and their cargo are inspected upon landing in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Cargos that arrive through the seaport are inspected as well, as are all military aircraft originating from Guam. The program also monitors over 200 snake traps at the airports and seaports on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The last credible snake sighting in the CNMI occurred in 2009.
DLNR Secretary Arnold Palacios expresses his appreciation to OIA for continuing to provide this critical funding for the CNMI BTS program. “Through the persistent efforts of the CNMI BTS program, we have been successful in preventing the introduction of brown treesnakes in the CNMI. Considering the potential catastrophic effect of the introduction of brown treesnakes on our islands, it is essential that we continue to strengthen our defense against these snakes.”
The BTS Program serves as the absolute line of defense for preventing the spread of the brown treesnake from Guam to the CNMI. It is critical that the program remains fully functional to prevent economical, public health and environmental impacts as a result of the introduction of the brown treesnake to the CNMI.
Snake identification is critical, as the snake must be immediately contained and/or killed to prevent movement into an area that would provide refuge and hinder the capture of the animal. The public can help fulfill the program’s mission of preventing the spread of BTS. If you see a snake, kill it and then call the BTS program hotline at 287-6253 (28-SNAKE). If a snake cannot be killed, report the snake sighting immediately and a rapid response team will be sent out to the area to trap and kill the snake.
For more information about the BTS program or to request a presentation, please call 664-6014. (PR)