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How is the USGS helping to prevent the spread of the brown treesnake?

Preventing the spread of the invasive brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) is paramount. Without rigorous prevention, control (let alone removal) of an introduced reptile species is extremely difficult. 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.  

USGS scientists develop and test tools to control invasive brown treesnakes, and study the snake’s impacts on Guam's ecosystems. The USGS also leads the multi-agency Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team, which responds to invasive snake sightings throughout the Pacific and trains personnel from cooperating agencies. 

The 2020 discovery of brown treesnakes on Cocos Island, a critical wildlife conservation area close to Guam, illustrates the risks that native wildlife face if the brown treesnake gets to any other snake-free islands. Getting ahead of the curve and implementing prevention efforts from the beginning are essential, before an invasive species becomes a problem. 

Learn more: The Brown Treesnake