This spring, the skies over Guam will be blanketed with legions of dead mice parachuting onto the island to combat an invasive snake species.
According to NPR, brown tree snakes have been causing a nuisance on Guam for over 60 years, when they were inadvertently transported to the island as stowaways on US ships, presumably from the continental United States. The snakes’ presence on Guam is decimating the island’s wildlife, and has killed most of the island’s bird species, according to Associated Press reporting.
The plan’s success is premised on the fact that brown tree snakes eat prey that they didn’t kill themselves. As such, dead, thumb-sized mice will be laced with acetaminophen, a primary ingredient in Tylenol, which, when ingested by the snakes, puts them into a coma and kills them.
According to National Geographic, the operation has been done before, perhaps most recently as 2010. Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands, says that the operation’s goal is to control and contain the snakes rather than eradicate them.
The ultimate objective here is to prevent the invasive species from making its way to Hawaii, where officials fear the snakes will wreak havoc not only on the state’s wildlife, but its tourism industry as well.
As such, the mouse drops will be concentrated near Andersen Air Force Base, where US military aircraft are based. Like the ships that brought the snakes to Guam in the first place, the US military aircraft could inadvertently transport the invasive species to other destinations such as Hawaii.