Mouse brigades planning parachute drop over Guam to fight snakes

guam_button_01This 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.

If Blanche Devereaux were a bird: 62-year-old Albatross has a baby

The Washington Post had a report yesterday that a 62-year-old Albatross on Midway Atoll produced a healthy chick that hatched a few days ago.

Wisdom’s feat makes her the oldest known bird to reproduce, beating the more aptly-named Grandma, who unfortunately hasn’t been seen in a few years and is presumed dead. Wisdom’s feat has all sorts of implications not only for scientists’ knowledge of the Albatross, but also provide new insights on the health of the oceans.

One interesting tidbit from the article reveals that Wisdom is a bit of a cougar who may also enjoy dancing. Per the Washington Post:

Albatrosses mate for life, suggesting that Wisdom probably had to find a new, younger mate maybe twice down the line. They work at a relationship, first by getting their groove on. “They dance together,” said Chandler Robbins, a retired senior scientist at USGS.

Although my vacation to Midway last summer was cancelled, stories like this make me even more determined to find a way to eventually make it there.

Hell, if a bird can have offspring at age 62, surely I can find a way to Midway.


NPR’s Morning Edition Airs “Puerto Rico: A Disenchanted Island” Series

NPR is airing a four-part special series on its morning program this week on Puerto Rico, titled “Puerto Rico: A Disenchanted Island” I’ve heard the first two on the drive into work this week and they are well worth a listen (or read if that’s your thing)

Part one of the series, which aired on Tuesday, looks at some of the reasons why Puerto Ricans are leaving the island for a life on the mainland.

Part two, which provocatively asks whether Puerto Rico is the “Greece of the Caribbean?” looks at Puerto Ricans’ motivations for staying put even as the island’s debt increases and the crime and unemployment rates inch upward.

Well, that’s embarassing: Belarus blasts lack of DC voting rights

Well, Belarus–global beacon of human rights and democratic rule–is out with its much awaited human rights report.

Unexpectedly, the District of Columbia plays a starring role. The report notes that “600 thousand of Washington’s residents are not entitled to elect their representatives to the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

Well, it’s hard to argue with the truth. How long will it be before statehood opponents begin to accuse pro-statehood advocates of colluding with Alexander Lukashenko, Europe’s only remaining dictator?

Well, if there’s a silver lining, it’s that the ridiculousness of those White House online petitions has been exposed, thanks to the efforts America-hating secessionists in Dixie. The report states:

In November, people in seven American federal states collected sufficient numbers of signatures necessary for a secession from the USA. The civil petitions have been posted on a White House website’s special section, where people can leave their submissions or join those posted earlier. To begin dealing with a petition, the White House needs to receive at least 25 thousand signatures in 30 days. Once this requirement is met, an official response will be published on the website.

The Texas’ petition gathered more than 125 thousand signatures. The petition points out that the US economic travails resulted from the Federal Government’s failure to reform fiscal policies. In addition to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have also collected the required numbers.

So far, the White House has not considered the civilian petitions, which can be regarded as violation of the right to self-determination.

Just to be clear, I’m sure the District of Columbia would be glad take replace any of those states as the 50th star on the flag.