U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in Pacific Science (2010), vol. 64, no. 1:1–10. doi: 10.2984/64.1.001


The Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) has caused ecological and economic damage to Guam, and the snake has the potential to colonize other islands in the Pacific Ocean. This study quantifies the potential economic damage if the snake were translocated, established in the state of Hawaii, and causing damage at levels similar to those on Guam. Damages modeled included costs of medical treatments due to snakebites, snake-caused power outages, and decreased tourism resulting from effects of the snake. Damage caused by presence of the Brown Tree Snake on Guam was used as a guide to estimate potential economic damage to Hawaii from both medical- and power outage–related damage. To predict tourism impact, a survey was administered to Hawaiian tourists that identified tourist responses to potential effects of the Brown Tree Snake. These results were then used in an input-output model to predict damage to the state economy. Summing these damages resulted in an estimated total potential annual damage to Hawaii of between $593 million and $2.14 billion. This economic analysis provides a range of potential damages that policy makers can use in evaluation of future prevention and control programs.