To date, the CNMI is free of brown tree snakes and preventing this particular invasive specie from propagating on the islands is the priority of the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs.
According to U.S. OIA CNMI field representative Harry C. Blanco, their office is responsible for initiating programs for the eradication of brown tree snakes and coconut rhino beetles in Guam and the CNMI.
“These species are under our jurisdiction… We will never eradicate all the brown tree snakes in Guam, that’s why we are doing a lot of prevention here on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Currently, brown tree snakes have not reached our islands,” he said.
“We have received reports of sightings a year and a half ago and we immediately activated a task force to come here and do a thorough search. Fortunately, nothing was found,” he added.
In terms of monitoring and preventing the entry of brown tree snakes, Blanco said there are biologists in Hawaii who are assigned to handle Guam and CNMI issues. “Aside from those biologists in Hawaii, we have biologists and doctors on island who are doing a tremendous job monitoring the ports.”
“Unfortunately, brown tree snakes in Guam are rampant as well as coconut rhino beetles as the latter are destroying all the coconuts on the island of Guam. We found a lot of rhino coconut beetles on Rota and it’s good that we got there on time to contain it. We hope to continue the eradication process to completely wipe out the spread of coconut rhino beetles before they come to Saipan, Tinian, and the Northern Islands,” he added.
A conference on invasive species will take place in Guam in November.
“We have active working groups that focuses not only on brown tree snakes and coconut rhino beetles but other invasive species as well. All the regional areas will be going to that meeting,” Blanco said.
“Recently, OIC awarded the CNMI $181,000 for the coconut beetle eradication on Rota … other projects that we get grants for are Capital Improvement Projects, the corals and energizing the insular community to promote use of solar panels,” Blanco added.