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 Post subject: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 9:02 am 

Joined: April 9th, 2012, 6:43 pm
Posts: 38
Just came across this article.

http://www.walb.com/story/21304245/us-g ... uam-snakes

Not sure how I feel about it yet. I agree that something should be done about the brown tree snakes in Guam, but I can see a potential for large unintended consequences. Then again I have no idea what the toxicity of acetaminophen is to potential unintended species.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

steve


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 9:14 am 
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I heard about this years ago. I thought they had already done it with limited success.

??????????????


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 9:52 am 
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The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies;
Oh my god!!! The snakes are targeting our babies!! Haha I realize a bite would be more medically significant to a baby, but I really don't like the phrasing here. yes the snake is perfectly capable of biting a baby or anyone else for that matter but I doubt they would have written "....slither into homes and bite people, including someones uncle", as if they're not a big enough problem as is now they're making it sound like we are contending with evil baby biting snakes, why not say they hate puppies too...

Quote:
but I can see a potential for large unintended consequences.
I think their reasoning here is that any species that might be affected by this have already been extirpated by the snakes. Sounds like they're only going to do this in an area where theres nothing else of note to be affected.

I am curious as to what their success rate will be, meaning how many mice will actually be consumed by a snake and how many will just go to waste and decompose. I don't know the climate of the area too well, but im guessing its fairly tropical and humid meaning there is going to be a very short window of time where that mouse is still going to be in a good enough condition for a snake to eat it, afterall snakes aren't scavengers. This is also obviously not going to eliminate the problem but they realize that and state its just for control, from what I hear the population densities of snakes are astronomical over there so dropping mice might work then but once the pop. density drops, it will become an inefficient method for exterminating them.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 9:59 am 
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Anton,

I agree with you, even though snakes aren't "scavengers" they are very opportunistic feeders.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 11:11 am 
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Antonsrkn wrote:
Quote:
The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies;
Oh my god!!! The snakes are targeting our babies!! Haha I realize a bite would be more medically significant to a baby, but I really don't like the phrasing here. yes the snake is perfectly capable of biting a baby or anyone else for that matter but I doubt they would have written "....slither into homes and bite people, including someones uncle", as if they're not a big enough problem as is now they're making it sound like we are contending with evil baby biting snakes, why not say they hate puppies too... - Antonsrkn




Evil Baby Biters :lol: that has a funny ring to it :lol: another involuntary chuckle


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 12:53 pm 

Joined: December 9th, 2010, 9:21 am
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In point of fact, they do target babies, although it doesn't happen as often these days as compared to during the peak of the population explosion in the 80's. There are multiple cases of brown treesnakes entering a home, seeking out an infant or toddler, and attempting to ingest it. No deaths have resulted, but some infants had to be placed on respirators. See Fritts et at 1994. Risks to infants on Guam from bites of the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis). American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 1990 Vol. 42 No. 6 pp. 607-611.
One of my colleagues on Guam never had a snake in his house until his wife had a baby, after which he found multiple snakes in a year. One of them was found in the baby's room with its head in the dirty diaper can. There's been a fair bit of research on what attracts the snake to houses containing babies (so that the attractant can be used for control). Milk might be one of the important cues.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 12:56 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Exactly as NF says. For those doubting intentional and fairly common baby-biting (at least before mgt control went big and/or the snakes suffered some density-dependent population regulation):

http://www.fort.usgs.gov/resources/educ ... ants-A.pdf

Brown treesnakes (BTS) have a broader feeding repertoire than most of us can even comprehend, without further enlightenment. They are pretty weird snakes. They do indeed come into homes and attempt to subjugate human infants. They also scavenge things like used tampons, and barbecue scraps (bones & skin).

Quite a bit of effort has gone into trying to develop control techniques which take advantage of this behavior. E.g.,
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_dama ... rie061.pdf
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_dama ... /99-61.pdf

Aside - who among us has not seen a cottonmouth or ribbon snake pulling a nasty, stuck-on DOR frog off the asphalt? Some snakes scavenge a lot. There are populations that seem to depend on it, e.g., http://mccuescience.com/uploads/Agkis_scavenging.pdf

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 1:37 pm 
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Jimi wrote:
Aside - who among us has not seen a cottonmouth or ribbon snake pulling a nasty, stuck-on DOR frog off the asphalt?

This reminds me of something I seen as a kid. When I was 6 or 7 I was told that it was a myth that a cottonmouth would bite underwater. When I seen a cottonmouth attempting to scavenge dead fish on a stringer in the water it became obvious this wasn't true. The funny thing was that it sunk its fangs into a dead bass while underwater which was a several inches longer than it was and about 10 times as big around. It had no chance of swallowing it, and I know how snakes can swallow things significantly larger than itself. It remained latched on for awhile even after apparently getting nervous about me getting close to watch.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 1:49 pm 
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Quote:
Milk might be one of the important cues.
Will the new taxonomy require the common name to be "Brown Milk Snake", subspecies to be determined by lactic differentiation? :roll:

Seriously, a few years ago, pre-crash, one of our own did some great posts on the Browns on Guam. Was it Karl, AKA Buzztail?


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 3:15 pm 

Joined: December 9th, 2010, 9:21 am
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Previous test of aerially broadcast baits containing acetaminophen have been at small scales and for short periods of time, so it's been hard to figure out the effect on snake populations. The upcoming project will distribute toxic baits over a site that's several hundred acres, will include multiple aerial drops over about a year and a half at this site, and will include intensive monitoring. Results should help develop a prescription for knocking out the most snakes with the least effort/cost.
Not a lot of non-targets to worry about on Guam - mostly cats (bonus!) and mangrove monitors (probably not native).


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 3:41 pm 
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Quote:
entering a home, seeking out an infant or toddler, and attempting to ingest it.
wow, well I stand corrected. I learned something new today! The media isn't full of sh!t this time these snakes are in reality Evil Baby Biters!

Quote:
Aside - who among us has not seen a cottonmouth or ribbon snake pulling a nasty, stuck-on DOR frog off the asphalt? Some snakes scavenge a lot. There are populations that seem to depend on it
I thought about this when I posted but I also thought back to a recent conversation I had with someone who attempted to film vultures in the tropics. I was told that in tropical locations the carcasses that were laid out had a very narrow window of time until they became overly putrid even for the vultures, and then the only things that would eat them were various insects. You also have to remember something that is flattened in the middle of a road is going to go through a different process than something in a natural setting where detrivores can easily get to it and where it might be exposed to more moisture. Obviously these snakes eat more than I had anticipated (used tampons! :lol: ) so I think the window of time where the mouse might be consumed will be a little extended but i still don't think its going to be all that long.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2013, 4:17 pm 
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Perhaps they could slow the putrification of the bait mice by partially dehydrating them.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2013, 7:04 am 

Joined: February 25th, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Won't the island tip over and sink from the extra weight of all those mice?


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 26th, 2013, 12:13 pm 

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 3:10 pm
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I'm a little late to this thread, but thought I would chime in as I brought this up at work today with some of my coworkers. I work in Denver and one of my coworkers used to work for the NWRC in Ft. Collins. Interestingly he corrected me very quickly as I was mocking the idea of parachuting mice with acetaminophen into the canopy. As it turns out, researchers have supposedly isolated the molecule that the snakes cue in on from a scent perception. There is a published paper out there on this study but I dont have time to search for it. So anyway with the dense populations they suspect these snakes will be highly attracted to the mice.

Daryl Eby wrote:
Perhaps they could slow the putrification of the bait mice by partially dehydrating them.


And yes, they will be using dehydrated mice to slow the decay process.

I thought this idea was absolutely crazy but after finding that there are very few other species of animals that would be affected on the island, it actually makes sense. And like someone stated earlier, the few animals that could potentially be harmed are also invasive anyways!


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 26th, 2013, 12:16 pm 

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 3:10 pm
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Here is a link to the study and some of the published work that relates:

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_dama ... ndex.shtml

Note, there are links to the more info on the bottom of main page.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_dama ... ions.shtml


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 28th, 2013, 5:04 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Quote:
I work in Denver and one of my coworkers used to work for the NWRC in Ft. Collins. Interestingly he corrected me very quickly as I was mocking the idea of parachuting mice with acetaminophen into the canopy. As it turns out, researchers have


Brad, I'm glad you have that person to talk with.

All (and not pointed at Brad) -

It's very easy (as one often sees here on FHF) to mock this or that as ridiculous or "fraud, waste, and abuse". As it turns out, BTS researchers with NWRC have not only done work with prey odors and all sorts of associated snake behavior, but they, and folks with USGS, have also done tons and tons of research, at various scales, in the lab and in the field, trying to develop, assess, and optimize a fascinating assortment of control techniques for juvenile and adult BTS (which are much more attracted to frogs and lizards as young, birds and rodents as adults). Lure traps, sticky traps, trap doors, trap heights, live and artificial attractants, toxicants, best habitats to put traps in, best habitats to put attractants and toxicants in, bait stations and other delivery devices, how to visual search, how to train people to visual search, dog searching in cargo, dog searching in the woods, materials and construction techniques for snake fencing (both mesh and electric), etc etc etc.

Some of this stuff is grey lit, but a lot has been published. A few years ago a lot of the best was written up in a book "Problem Snake Management". Check it out if you haven't.

Anyway, lots of these techniques work a little bit, or OK some times or places, and poorly in others. Some stuff works a lot. Some stuff doesn't do much at all. Nothing is perfect - no silver bullet exists yet, probably never will.

So, this project integrates previous research - and logistics - on the best-working, most cost-effective attractants, toxicants, and delivery devices. It may look silly, or esoteric and wasteful, but it isn't. This is a real problem that's being worked out. And it's taken a bunch of smart, hard-working guys a long time and a lot of your money to get to this point. Just think about that next time you're about to "ready, fire, aim".

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: February 28th, 2013, 5:25 pm 
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Quote:
It's very easy (as one often sees here on FHF) to mock this or that as ridiculous or "fraud, waste, and abuse"......
So, this project integrates previous research - and logistics - on the best-working, most cost-effective attractants, toxicants, and delivery devices. It may look silly, or esoteric and wasteful, but it isn't. This is a real problem that's being worked out. And it's taken a bunch of smart, hard-working guys a long time and a lot of your money to get to this point. Just think about that next time you're about to "ready, fire, aim".
Woah easy there, sounds like some feathers were ruffled.

I don't know if something in this thread is what set you off, but if you look back at what previous posters wrote you will see no one is mocking the efforts just expressing some doubts. And expressing doubts is what science is all about haha. Some questions and concerns were brought up and addressed, myself and a few others poked fun at the phrasing in the article, no one said the efforts were ridiculous or misguided. But if I'm not allowed to poke fun and see the humor in various situations including research and stuff like this then I need to pick a different career, because I have to read way too much dry material otherwise. Come on... no matter what, you have to admit the idea of poisoned mice being parachuted in the jungle is humorous or atleast unusual.

Lighten up, there's a reason a paper titled "An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit" is the #1 read paper in PLoS Tropical Diseases, theres room for humor in science too.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2013, 6:21 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Quote:
Woah easy there, sounds like some feathers were ruffled.

I don't know if something in this thread is what set you off, but if you look back at what previous posters wrote you will see no one is mocking the efforts just expressing some doubts.


Alright alright. I can see how this response would have bugged someone focused purely on this thread. My apologies if that's you. Just so you know, I wasn't focused purely on this thread (not sure if that's bad forum protocol, or an inherent communication-error risk):
Quote:
(as one often sees here on FHF)


I've been irritated in the past on multiple occasions here (FHF) by mis-characterizations of BTS research and mgt efforts. The same thing is happening with S FL pythons. So I'm primed, so to speak, by previous experience. Some folks here (FHF) don't seem to believe a) invasive snakes can actually be a problem or b) there's anything anyone can do about, before or after establishment. They're happy to share their opinions. I'm happy to disagree, although sometimes...caustically.

Something you posted earlier-
Quote:
I am curious as to what their success rate will be, meaning how many mice will actually be consumed by a snake and how many will just go to waste and decompose. I don't know the climate of the area too well, but im guessing its fairly tropical and humid meaning there is going to be a very short window of time where that mouse is still going to be in a good enough condition for a snake to eat it, afterall snakes aren't scavengers. This is also obviously not going to eliminate the problem but they realize that and state its just for control, from what I hear the population densities of snakes are astronomical over there so dropping mice might work then but once the pop. density drops, it will become an inefficient method for exterminating them.


There are publications available on all these topics. Others have wondered the same things and applied themselves to these issues. The reading is not dry if you like the subject.

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2013, 11:59 am 
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Above in this thread, Jimi wrote:
It's very easy (as one often sees here on FHF) to mock this or that as ridiculous or "fraud, waste, and abuse"...

In another thread a few months back, Jimi wrote:
... I totally understand your skepticism about research in general, having seen WAY, WAY too much money wasted on utter bullshit research...

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, Jimi, nor am I holding a grudge over anything that was between us in the past. I just wanted to try to use this as a teachable moment, as you seemed to have a hard time understanding where I was coming from in that previous discussion (and a few others we had like it around the same time), and here you seem to understand it fairly well. The truth is that questions are often (virtually always?) warranted and sometimes criticisms are, too, but fairness requires that both be sincere and specific enough to be meaningfully addressed.

:beer:

And I agree, Anton, the thought of paratrooper mouse death squads attacking Guam is pretty darn funny. :lol: I hope they really hit the snakes hard, though.

Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: March 4th, 2013, 11:44 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Quote:
hard time understanding where I was coming from in that previous discussion (and a few others we had like it around the same time), and here you seem to understand it fairly well


Gerry, I wouldn't assume that. I stand by both quotes. Still watching way too much money wasted on - yes - utter bullshit research. Also seeing some amazing research happen. Also watching too many things go un- or underfunded.

The truth as I see it, is that in conservation generally, our information needs-identification, acquisition, analysis, archival, synthesis, usage, reporting, and funding functionalities are - more often than not - badly articulated. Too many silos, too many little empires, too little feedback, not enough coordination and steering, and often not enough time spent up-front clarifying motivating values. This is a gross generalization, but I have seen it again and again. There's plenty of blame to go around but I like to focus on what's screwed up, not who's screwed up, and then I try to fix what I can. (For example, getting useful applied research out of local academia, and then getting managers to actually use it.) It's what I'm doing these days. Lucky me - it's satisfying. And of course frustrating. Nobody bats 1.000, sometimes the opposing pitcher and catcher are pretty good, and God help me things just take forever.

Anyway, management of the brown treesnake problem is one of the best examples I've seen firsthand, of the different functionalities operating in concert.

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: March 4th, 2013, 9:11 pm 
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Jimi wrote:
... I stand by both quotes...

It's certainly your prerogative to apply a double standard if you wish (it's apparently ok to treat wildlife scientists that way, but not wildlife managers), Jimi, but you should be aware that it's quite clear this is what you're doing.

And of course, as I've pointed out before, it's also quite counterproductive in that you're contributing to the alienation of the scientist and manager when they should really be working together, and to a public perception of the scientist as wasteful and untrustworthy (at a time when corporate interests are putting a great deal of effort into undermining the public's trust of science and its practitioners to further their pecuniary interests at great environmental cost, no less).

Oh well. Me, I'll stick with what I said above:
gbin wrote:
... The truth is that questions are often (virtually always?) warranted and sometimes criticisms are, too, but fairness requires that both be sincere and specific enough to be meaningfully addressed.


Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: March 5th, 2013, 3:36 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Gerry -

Whatever dude. I see I'll have to resume what I've been doing the last few months (pointedly ignoring you, as one would a troll), because you're still doing what you do. For example blithely ignoring certain other things I said in my same "offensive-to-Gerry-post", like:
Quote:
Also seeing some amazing research happen. Also watching too many things go un- or underfunded.

and
Quote:
The truth as I see it, is that in conservation generally, our information needs-identification, acquisition, analysis, archival, synthesis, usage, reporting, and funding functionalities are - more often than not - badly articulated. Too many silos, too many little empires, too little feedback, not enough coordination and steering, and often not enough time spent up-front clarifying motivating values. This is a gross generalization, but I have seen it again and again. There's plenty of blame to go around but I like to focus on what's screwed up, not who's screwed up, and then I try to fix what I can. (For example, getting useful applied research out of local academia, and then getting managers to actually use it.)

"Articulated" like a knee, not like an essay. Which encompasses the point I think you intended when you said:
Quote:
when they should really be working together

- and not actually applying a double standard to managers and researchers, just applying the same one - that very few people spending public money should be allowed to live in a bubble. Money's tight and time is short.

But there I go wasting my breath again - my bad. Let's let the OP have his thread back, shall we? Start another thread if you like, and have yourself a great time. Perhaps someone else will enjoy interacting with you. Buh-bye.

Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: March 5th, 2013, 6:34 pm 
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Above in this thread, Jimi wrote:
It's very easy (as one often sees here on FHF) to mock this or that as ridiculous or "fraud, waste, and abuse"...

In another thread a few months back, Jimi wrote:
... I totally understand your skepticism about research in general, having seen WAY, WAY too much money wasted on utter bullshit research...

And after this was pointed out, Jimi wrote:
... not actually applying a double standard to managers and researchers, just applying the same one...

:crazyeyes:

That's the thing about teachable moments, I guess: However good they might be, they're nonetheless wasted on people who refuse to learn from them. As I said, oh well. I'd suggest that the rest of us, anyway, try to ensure that our questions for/criticisms of wildlife science and management be sincere and specific enough to be meaningfully addressed...

Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: June 5th, 2013, 1:50 am 
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This was an interesting thread when it was on topic. I'd rather set the personal stuff aside. If you want to say something personal to a poster, the PM system works well for that.

Going back on topic, I'd be really, really interesting to see how this plays out in the long run. It's a little bit of an ideal situation compared to other similar issues (mostly because there are fewer species on the island to potentially damage), but I'd still like to see what they could learn not only for Guam, but also other eradication efforts. If anyone gets more info on the progress of the effort, post it here or PM it to me.

I just read an write-up on the successful Golden Eagle removal and Island Fox rehabilitation in California's Channel Islands. I've also heard that rat eradication has now been successful on a couple dozen islands. I'd like to know how many other such eradication efforts have worked out.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: June 5th, 2013, 2:04 pm 
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jonathan wrote:
This was an interesting thread when it was on topic. I'd rather set the personal stuff aside...

In which case you could always try just resuming the discussion about the topic rather than starting off with an admonishment about personal stuff months after the personal stuff ceased... :roll:

For what it's worth, I'd love to see continued coverage/more discussion of the topic, too. Folks might consider posting links to interesting reports on exotic nuisance wildlife eradication efforts they come across; I doubt the OP would mind if they're not all about the brown tree snakes on Guam.

Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: June 6th, 2013, 9:51 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
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Quote:
Going back on topic, I'd be really, really interesting to see how this plays out in the long run. It's a little bit of an ideal situation compared to other similar issues (mostly because there are fewer species on the island to potentially damage), but I'd still like to see what they could learn not only for Guam, but also other eradication efforts. If anyone gets more info on the progress of the effort, post it here or PM it to me.


Me too, after putting a couple of years into it.

It is an ideal situation in a perverse way - 1) it's a very simple ecological situation, there are very few remaining native species & relationships to deal with, and 2) it's a -relatively- easy human situation to deal with because of the cultural context ("who cares?!?"). In short it's a pretty ideal lab for heavy-handed field experimentation. There's no need for passive observational approaches here, so the tempo of learning, the strength of inference, can be pretty awesome. "If you want to do an experiment, TREAT IT." Check...

Some folks who check in here now and then are currently-involved, maybe we can hear from them on current & upcoming events. Complicating factors include flaky federal budgets and the always-threatened move of big military assets from Okinawa to Guam. And there's the downside of a pretty limited available strategy - containment. Although perhaps with acetaminophen plus rodenticide, actual eradication (via zones, or a rolling front???) might become a strategic option within current career horizons (???). Wild speculation.

As for other island eradications, I posted some stuff in the SE forum a while back. Here's a general link:
http://www.islandconservation.org/tools/?id=67

There are other snakes-on-islands problems; I don't know how much directly-transferable material there is from Guam, but certainly there would seem to be some general lessons: 1) prevent if humanly possible, 2) monitor so rapid response is possible (deny the beachhead), 3) coexistence may be untenable, 4) containment is expensive and eradication may be impossible.

cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: June 6th, 2013, 10:52 pm 
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Thanks Jimi! When I said it was an ideal situation, I was thinking of the same perverse stuff that you were.

Disappointing to think that eradication is probably still impossible though. There's an introduced water snake infestation that just covers one lake in Los Angeles. I volunteered a little with an effort a few summers ago to test some means of control. They weren't very successful. They might drain the lake in the future though (it's pretty much all pollutants and invasives now anyway), and the course of draining/dredging/invasive plant removal might give them an opportunity to get rid of all or most of the water snakes. Still, even then a few might hide in a nearby marsh. Eradication is difficult.

On a better note, up in Oregon there's a snapping turtle eradication underway in a lake that appears to be mostly successful. They haven't gotten all of them, but they've managed to pull out 80 in 10 years and appear to have severely reduced the population. Still, full eradication hasn't happened yet.


Jimi wrote:
As for other island eradications, I posted some stuff in the SE forum a while back. Here's a general link:
http://www.islandconservation.org/tools/?id=67


Thanks for that! "1182 successful eradications of invasive vertebrates" is nice. I wonder if invertebrate eradications are so different that they're not comparable, or if there's a lot of overlap.

Not surprising that rats are so often the issue (and half of the successful eradications). It's good that they appear to have come up with some effective means for eradication, apparently even on some islands where native mice species are present.

Some of the invasives surprised me. 39 of 41 Arctic Fox eradacation efforts have been successful. Arctic Foxes are an invasive species on that many islands! And there's been 131 domestic cat eradication efforts. That's great to hear - I guess killing feral cats is tenable on lightly inhabited islands?


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting solution to Guam's snake Problem
PostPosted: June 9th, 2013, 11:52 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1103
Well, it's just my opinion (re: eradication as an option yet) but...Guam is 30 miles top to bottom, and a quarter to a third that wide. The northern 2/3 is a limestone plateau about 600' tall with very rugged jungled cliffs all around the outside & caves and solution holes everywhere, and the southern 1/3 is a volcanic landscape with old basalt weathered into red clay ravines; highest peak is 1250-1500 feet high (and a sketchy hike in spots because of the slick exposures). Guam gets something like 80 inches of rain a year. It popped out of the ocean about 40 million years ago. The limestone is riddled and the basalt is chiseled into some pretty rough country. If you pulled the 200-odd square miles of surface area out into a level plain, who knows how big it would be.

So there's the "simple" geographical sideboards on logistics. Other constraints, even if a technological fix existed to put every single snake at risk of control, include cost and availability of materials (e.g., enough tainted mice and rodenticide on-hand to complete the job).

Aside from technical details, which might be the easy ones, there's the human dimensions. The locals probably wouldn't mind much, but among other hurdles you'd have to satisfy EPA that you weren't going to kill lots of dogs, hogs, and other non-target organisms snorfling up the tainted rodents, commensal & domestic. Then there's the fact that maintaining any sort of organized effort for a sustained period is hard work. Anywhere; it goes against human nature, and entropy. Guam doesn't make it any easier, let me tell you. Things there just sort of fall apart in a haze of barbecue smoke and finadene and booze and prostrating muggy heat.

So whole-island execution is problematic. But maybe there are some intermediate scales or steps. When I left they were building a large "snake pen" to do experiments in - something on the order of 5 acres in size. I know they did a lot of great work in there, and I saw some preliminary results. Perhaps a barrier like that could be built & maintained around high-value targets like cargo-handling facilities (emigration-risk points) and T&E species repatriation or recovery sites (e.g., fruit bats, Marianas crows, Guam rails, whatever). Military expansion may also generate some opportunities, e.g. via mitigation funding for some of these kinds of ideas, and also via an increase in paved and mowed areas that could (with effort; but the military can be a great conservation partner) be managed as snake-unfriendly buffer zones.

I think the foxes in the Aleutians & maybe Pribiloffs were all fur-farm dreams that were abandoned & left to their own bird-destroying devices. No really so much invasive as introduced and pesky. Their vagility sucks but if moved they do quite well for themselves.

Most of the cat stories come out of Mexico and yes, those are some God-forsaken outposts that don't have any or many people. I think the Mexicans have done fantastic education work to reduce re-infestation and to get e.g. lighthouse-keepers' pets spayed/neutered. And they've gotten great NGO help for funding and especially talent. Cats don't give it up easily, you don't just go smoke every single cat on an island if you don't seriously have it together. Even with a good pack of Jack Russells it's hard to imagine a tougher assignment. Well...there's snakes...hmm. Ugh. See the problem?

Cheers,
Jimi


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