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Dead mice to be dropped on Guam from helicopters to fight invasive snake

By Samantha Kimmey
Friday, February 22, 2013 17:34 EDT
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An Australian Brown Tree Snake on Shutterstock: http://tinyurl.com/ahwb2yz
 
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If the image of dead mice falling from the sky makes you squeamish, you might want to skip a spring trip to Guam this year.

The U.S. plans to drop dead mice on Guam in April or May, in order to help control the invasive brown tree snake, which has destroyed a number of species on the island, reported the Associated Press.

The dead mice — laced with the painkiller acetaminophen, found in Tylenol — will be attached to “flotation device[s] with streamers” so that they catch on the trees below and avoid the ground, where other animals could eat them. Then the neonatal mice will be dropped from helicopters by hand, where they should fall into the trees below. The acetaminophen will kill the snakes that eat the mice.

Scientists claim the potential harm to other animals is minimal, especially because so many species have been wiped out.

One major concern — and the reason that the mice will be dropped near America’s air force base on Guam — is Hawaii. The U.S. worries the snake could make its way to that island via a plane from the base. The state depends heavily on tourism, and many birds on the island could be decimated by an invasive snake.

They can also knock out electricity when they climb onto power poles, as they have in Guam.

One study, conducted in 2010 by the National Wildlife Research Center, estimated that the damage to Hawaii would be significant, costing the state between $593 million and 2.14 billion annually in economic damage.

The brown tree snake came to Guam about 60 years ago from South Pacific, as they slithered onto planes headed for the island. The snake not only devastated many species but also damaged Guam’s image as a place to travel for wildlife tourism.

[h/t NPR]

[Image: Brown Tree Snake on Shutterstock]

 
 
 
 
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