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/.

NPR

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
WAMU 88.5

Plan To Offer Free Community College Divides Along Party Lines

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama laid out a plan to offer two years of community college. But at least in Northern Virginia, support for the proposal seems split on partisan lines.

WAMU 88.5

Drone Found On White House Grounds, Not Regarded As Ongoing Threat

A drone landed in a tree on the White House grounds shortly after 3 a.m. Monday morning, touching off a security response.

Leave a Comment

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