The other day, I read that the government was going to drop dead mice from helicopters over Guam. It sounded crazy, but there was a good reason. Officials are using the mice to get rid of an estimated two million brown tree snakes.
The snakes have overtaken the territory, causing damage to both the economy and environment. The snakes have almost depleted Guam’s native bird species. This lack of birds causes a frightening (at least to me) side effect – the island now has 40 times more spiders than surrounding islands. Needless to say, all the spiders and snakes have dampened tourism. The snakes have also wreaked havoc on power and building wires.
How did the snakes get there? They came aboard U.S. military ships leaving the South Pacific right after World War II.
Now, the U.S. wants them gone and bombing the island with poisoned dead mice is the game plan. Each mouse is laced with acetaminophen – that’s Tylenol to you and me – which apparently will kill the snakes. No word on what will be done with all the dead snakes.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is not amused by this plan. Calling it a “clumsy dangerous massacre,” PETA says that killing the snakes is inhumane. Director Martin Merserau said, “Brown tree snakes did not ask to be stowaways on planes or ships and then forced to survive on a foreign island.” He went on to add, “Although the snakes are considered invasive, no animal should be forced to endure cruel death.”
Now, I love animals, but something needs to be done about these snakes. The brown tree snakes can grow to 10 feet and have bitten small children. Government officials say that only the snakes will be affected by the poisoned mice. I am surprised PETA isn’t upset about the number dead mice this operation will take and wonder how that came about.
Merserau is not completely irrational on this whole matter. He says it may take days or weeks for the reptiles to die and would prefer the snakes be trapped and humanly euthanized. The only problem with that, according to officials, is that the snakes will breed faster than trappers can catch and euthanize them. The drop is planned for April or May.