npr.org / By Mark Memmott /
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.