Entries in Guam (4)


Snake Population to Be Bombed with Poison Mice

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In Guam, pest control is a little more complicated than buying a better mousetrap. In fact it can require a few helicopters.

To combat the invasive population of brown tree snakes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services will air drop mice laced with the painkiller acetaminophen into the dense jungles on the island.

"We are taking this to a new phase," said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. "There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam."

There are an estimated 2 million brown tree snakes on Guam with around 20 to 30 snakes infesting every acre of the island. The snakes showed up on the island after World War II, arriving on U.S. military ships from other parts of the Pacific war theater including Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

The snakes have decimated Guam's native bird population, wiping out nearly all species. Growing between three to ten feet, the snakes have affected humans by causing power outages and occasionally biting residents.

Robert Reed, the project leader of brown snake research for the U.S. Geological Survey, says the snakes are "changing the face of Guam."

"If you walk through Guam forests, you end up completely covered in spider webs because without birds, [the population of ] spiders and their prey have exploded," said Reed.

To fight the invading species, the mice, to be dropped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, will be dosed with about 80 mg of the painkiller, which is also used in medications like Tylenol. In that amount the painkiller is fatal to snakes, but harmless to humans.

The mice will be attached to green streamers, which according to Reed look like something between "a couple of feet of crepe paper and toilet paper," that hooks into the treetops where the brown tree snakes like to eat.

While the snakes have long plagued the residents of Guam, wildlife officials are concerned that the snakes could make their way to Hawaii via boat or plane and cause similar devastation.

In 2010 a study from the National Wildlife Research Center found that the brown tree snakes could cause anywhere from $593 million to $2.14 billion in damage in Hawaii if they were able to reach the same population density as they have in Guam.

If the air drop successfully diminishes the brown tree snake population, Reed says some birds that have become extinct in the wild could be reintroduced to the Guam jungles.

"This gives us optimism. It's a very promising new tool that might allow us from just trying to contain the snakes to actually try to restore these ecosystem," said Reed. "We've got some hope, it's a refreshing thing to have."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US, Japan Reach Deal on Moving Marines Out of Okinawa

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- The U.S. and Japan have reached an agreement to move 9,000 Marines off the southern island of Okinawa.

The proposal, which is part of the Obama administration's larger push to beef up security in Asia, was announced by both countries on Thursday.  Under the reworked deal, about 5,000 Marines will be sent to Guam, with the rest being spread out across Australia and Hawaii.

The new plan follows years of disagreements between the U.S. and Japan over the future of military bases in Okinawa.  The countries have agreed to relocate a controversial base to a remote part of the island, but strong local opposition and environmental concerns have delayed those plans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan May Move US Marines to Guam

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Thousands of U.S. Marines in Japan could be headed to Guam soon.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says he is considering a plan that would transfer close to 5,000 Marines out of the southern island of Okinawa, where a majority of the U.S. bases are located.

That's a break from a previous bilateral agreement that calls for 8,000 Marines to be moved out of Japan, so long as the controversial base Futenma is moved to a remote part of the island.

Okinawans, who are increasingly frustrated with U.S. military presence, say they want that base off the island altogether. That opposition has stalled U.S. efforts to realign troops in Asia. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Americans Bound for the Philippines Missing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) -- The Philippine Coast Guard is searching for a missing sailboat carrying five Americans.

The 38-foot twin-hulled catamaran, The Pineapple, left the Pacific island of Guam 15 days ago and was scheduled to arrive in the central Filipino island of Cebu Sunday.

Concerned relatives contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which conducted a search-and-rescue operation with their Filipino counterparts, Lt. Commander Armando Balilo said Friday.

"The weather has been rough out there with strong winds and high waves, so we're concerned," Balilo said.

Cebu is located about 1,400 miles west of Guam, a U.S. territory.  Heavy rains and rough seas have been reported in the area in recent weeks.

Balilo said four men and one woman are aboard the sailboat.  Their identities and hometowns have yet to be released.

The Philippines has dispatched two aircraft to help in the search.  Balilo said the Philippine Coast Guard has alerted all coast guard stations and asked all vessels in the Eastern Visayas region to help in the search.

The U.S. Coast Guard is also conducting a search. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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