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Marianas gets funding to keep snakes out of planes

Thursday 25 August 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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Marianas gets funding to keep snakes out of planes
Brown tree snake in Guam Photo: By Pavel Kirillov from St.Petersburg, Russia - Brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), CC BY-SA 2.0

The Northern Marianas government has been awarded $US450,000 to keep the invasive brown tree snake from its shores.

The Department of Public Lands and Natural Resources is expected to use the funds to pay for prevention and detection programmes.

It will also be used to pay the salaries of Division of Fish and Wildlife inspectors who inspect planes, vessels, and cargo at the Marianas' air and seaports.

The Office of Insular Affairs' (OIA) Brown Tree Snake Program received $3.8 million in fiscal year 2022 and was divided among the Marianas, Guam, Hawaii, and two federal departments - the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior.

OIA Assistant Secretary Carmen Cantor says mitigating the threat that the Brown Tree Snake poses to Guam's ecological and economic systems remains a priority as well as preventing spread to the other territories.

In 2019 the authorities in Guam began conducting air drops of drug-laced dead mice to to combat an invasion of brown tree snakes, which is native to Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

According to the US Department of Agriculture the bug-eyed species preys on native lizards and birds, and causes frequent power outages by climbing on electrical wires.