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Brown tree snake found in Northern Mariana Islands

September 15, 2014

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A snake that can wipe out bird populations and short out electrical grids by climbing power poles has been found in Rota on the Northern Mariana Islands.

Biologists and government officials there tell the Pacific Daily News (http://bit.ly/1qFFiF3 ) they’re on high alert.

The 40-inch male brown tree snake was found in a trap earlier this month.

It doesn’t just wipe out birds. It also allows the insect population to grow and limits the diversity of plants.

The snake’s corpse was moved to Guam where researchers can determine how long it was in the trap.

Scientists are setting 200 more traps around the island, in addition to the 46 traps that are already used for early detection.

They don’t know if the snake was alone or if there’s an established population, so 10 people have begun performing night searches for the reptiles.

Tree snakes can eat their prey whole and hibernate for weeks afterward, making them difficult to catch because they’re less likely to be out searching for food.

The arrival of tree snakes on Guam caused a drastic reduction in native bird populations, so scientists are concerned about Rota’s native birds.

They say anyone who sees a brown tree snake should kill it immediately, because they can disappear within seconds. After killing the snake people should notify authorities.

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Information from: Pacific Daily News: http://www.guampdn.com

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