USDA National Wildlife Research Center Symposia


Date of this Version

August 2007


Published in: Witmer, G. W., W. C. Pitt, and K. A. Fagerstone, editors. 2007. Managing vertebrate invasive species: proceedings of an international symposium. USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Also available online at


Two independent studies in the 1990s found that Hawaii had the nation’s worst alien pest problem due to gaps in prevention, detection and control programs, which could be addressed through increased communication, cooperation, and public outreach. The Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS), a government/non-government partnership, formed in 1995 to address these gaps and work on public awareness. Using snakes as an example, a 1996 Hawaii statewide public awareness survey found that 66% of people “had heard of brown treesnakes.” CGAPS ran the “Silent Invasion” campaign in 1997, with “shock footage” television commercials and specials about brown treesnakes on Guam. By 2004, awareness of brown treesnakes had risen to 83%, and 91% of Hawaiian residents were “very likely” to report snake sightings, yet less than 5% knew about the Pest Hotline, nobody could recite it, and some balked at having to call an Oahu number to report a snake. CGAPS launched phase two of the campaign in 2006, with television and print media and a new toll-free hotline number. Follow-up surveys confirmed rising awareness about brown treesnakes, but unacceptably low awareness and use of the Pest Hotline. CGAPS is experimenting with ways to promote knowledge and good intentions to different audiences in Hawaii.