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


Date of this Version

Fall 2012


Human–Wildlife Interactions 6(2):222–236, Fall 2012


Brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) are an invasive species to the island of Guam. Because they have extirpated the native forest avifauna on Guam and are a threat to other Pacific islands, the development of efficient and cost-effective methods to control them is desired. We compared the efficacy, cost, and effort required to remove brown treesnakes on 6-ha plots in forest scrub on Guam, using 2 methods: trapping and poison baiting. Toxic baits consisted of dead neonatal mice adulterated with 80-mg acetaminophen. To assess efficacy, we used mark-recapture methods to estimate snake abundance on plots 12 days before and 12 days after treatment. We also monitored bait-take or trap success for 20 days during treatment. From 6,304 trap-nights, we recorded 801 captures of 504 snakes on 6, 6-ha plots during a 51-day period. Snake populations on plots ranged from 41 to 107 prior to treatment. Using trapping to gauge survival of marked snakes, the 2 methods (trapping and baiting) had similar efficacies (0.05 to 0.1). Based on trapping, post-treatment population estimates ranged from 26 to 40, yielding reductions from estimated pre-treatment populations of 7 to 68% for both types of snake-removal treatments. Using post-treatment bait-take of unadulterated mice as an index of efficacy, poisoned baiting was twice as effective as trapping in diminishing snake activity. Trapped plots had post-treatment bait-take rates similar to reference plots (75%), whereas poison-baited plots had bait-take rates of 38%, suggesting that some snakes cannot be trapped and that baiting affects a wider range of the snake population. Because of the potential for baiting to impact more snakes, this method was about 1.67 times more cost effective than trapping. If baiting were to occur via aerial drop rather than via bait stations, the economic incentive for using baiting as a control strategy would be even greater. These observations will prove useful for managers making decisions about appropriate methods for control of brown treesnake populations.

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