Scientists plan to airdrop dead mice laced with painkillers over the territory of Guam.
The tiny US territory of Guam has been plagued by an epidemic of brown tree snakes for the last sixty years. The reptile reached Guam on US Navy ships returning from the South Pacific after World War II. Since then, their numbers have ballooned to approximately 2 million, and they are a major cause of ecological and economic hardship on the island. The venomous snakes bite humans, and have been responsible for the extinction of most of Guam's native bird species.
To combat the threat, scientists plan to drop dead mice who have been laced with acetaminophen, the active ingredient of Tylenol, which is deadly to the snakes. The mice will be fitted with streamers to keep them from falling to the ground and potentially poisoning non-target species.
While the technique, if effective, will do little to help reestablish lost bird populations on Guam, it could potentially be used to protect native bird populations on Hawaii, where conservationists are deeply worried about a similar invasion of brown tree snakes. The drops are set to start in April or May of this year.