Dead Mice Are Going To Be Dropped On Guam From Helicopters (Really) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Dead Mice Are Going To Be Dropped On Guam From Helicopters (Really)

Here's the latest plan scientists have come up with to kill some of the estimated 2 million brown tree snakes that have wiped out many other animals on Guam:

In April or May they're going to lace dead mice with painkillers, attach them to little parachutes, drop them from helicopters and hope that they get snagged in the jungle foliage. Then, if all goes well, the snakes — which as their name implies hang out in trees — will eat the mice and die from ingesting the painkillers' active ingredients.

We aren't kidding. That's what The Associated Press is reporting from Guam's Andersen Air Force Base, near where this experimental airdrop will happen.

To work, the snakes are going to have to discover their snacks from the sky fairly quickly. According to the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:

"Dead mice are attractive to snakes only for 2-3 days. After this time, and owing to the tropical climate, the lure is no longer available."

Scientists don't think the mice bombs will be a threat to other animals, so long as they get caught in the jungle canopy. There aren't many birds left on the island — because of the snakes.

As NPR's Christopher Joyce reported last September, "the brown tree snake invaded Guam over 60 years ago — they sneaked in aboard boats or in the wheel wells of airplanes." It's feared that they might show up elsewhere, such as Hawaii, if they hop rides on planes and ships leaving Guam. The Agriculture Department has estimated that if the snakes reached the Aloha State, the economic damage "from medical incidents [bites], power outages [they get caught in power lines and transmitters], and decreases in tourism ... would range from approximately $593 million to $2.14 billion annually."

The snakes' presence in Guam has been good for at least one other species. Chris reported that because the snakes have eaten most of the island's birds, the spider population has exploded.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Audiences Get A Modern Look At A 19th Century Opera

Opera as seen through the lens of Google Glass? Wolf Trap is giving audiences the chance to mix technology with Bizet’s classic "Carmen" this month.
NPR

Can You Trust That Organic Label On Imported Food?

A new book claims the organic label can't be trusted, especially on food that's imported. Yet there is a global system for verifying the authenticity of organic food, and it mostly seems to work.
NPR

Insurance For Fake Identities The Latest Skirmish Over Obamacare

Republicans say a sting in which false identities were used to sign up for health care has revealed a major problem. Democrats question the premise that people would try to steal insurance.
NPR

A Plan To Untangle Our Digital Lives After We're Gone

In the digital age, our online accounts don't die with us. A proposed law might determine what does happen to them. But the tech industry warns the measure could threaten the privacy of the deceased.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.