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


In the 1940s the brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) was accidentally transported to Guam and became established. Brown treesnakes have caused and continue to cause major problems for the ecology, economy, and quality of life on Guam. As Guam’s snake densities increased in the late 1970s, extralimital encounters began to be reported on islands with transportation links to Guam. In 1993, a major effort was initiated to reduce the potential for brown treesnakes to accidentally enter Guam’s transportation system. In 2002, a multi-agency Rapid Response Team (RRT) was established to assist in detection and capture of brown treesnakes on recipient islands after being accidentally transported from Guam. Since its creation, the RRT has conducted 2-5 training courses annually on Guam and 16 off-Guam field operations. As of 2006, the RRT consisted of 66 members located throughout the Pacific region and the United States mainland. The RRT has incorporated research results from affiliated agencies, such as means to improve snake detectability at low densities, effectiveness of control tools in rodent-rich environments, and predicting movements of snakes accidentally translocated. The RRT continues to work with regional island groups, improving communication networks, elevating public awareness, and developing response capabilities.