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How is the USGS helping prevent the spread of the brown Treesnake?

Prevention of spread is paramount. It is much cheaper than intervention once a snake population establishes. Feeding on prey species that are unused to being hunted by snakes, invading brown Treesnakes can remain well-fed with little effort while they continue to multiply. So it is crucial to keep alien species from sensitive environments.

Without rigorous prevention, it is extremely difficult to control, let alone remove, an introduced reptile species. In the case of the brown Treesnake, prevention efforts include working to detect stowaway snakes before they leave the island, as well as extreme vigilance on islands where the snakes are most likely to invade.

A multi-agency Rapid Response Team led by the USGS assists in detecting and capturing brown Treesnakes that are found as stowaways or on other Pacific islands after being accidentally transported from Guam. This response team uses USGS research to help them improve their chances of finding snakes, as well as predicting the movements of snakes that could have accidentally made it to another island.

If the brown Treesnake gets to any of these other snake-free islands, it will find a veritable banquet of prey animals — and the same thing could happen there as happened on Guam. It’s essential to get ahead of the curve and implement prevention efforts at the get-go, before an alien species becomes a problem.

Tags: Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Reptiles, Snakes, Predator, Constrictors