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The Plague Of Snakes Is Impacting Bird Populations And Forests Of Guam

First Posted: Mar 13, 2017 04:26 AM EDT
How These Snakes Caused Power Outages In Guam
The plague of snakes has caused the decline of bird and tree populations as well as power outages in Guam.
(Photo : Smithsonian Channel/YouTube screenshot)

Guam is plagued with millions of brown tree snakes. With this, it has devastating effects on the nation's bird populations and forests. About 90 percent of new trees may have fallen and a loss of 10 of Guam's 12 native bird populations with the outbreak of snakes on the said island, which is located between Australia and Japan.

Diane Vice, the wildlife supervisor of Guam Department of Agriculture, said that the brown tree snakes have affected Guam's environment in a huge way. She added that Guam Department of Agriculture facilitates captive bird breeding that propagates the said birds to release them into the wild, as noted by KUAM. She further said it is an effort to preserve Guam's native birds including the Micronesian kingfisher and the Guam rail, two of some of the most endangered birds in the world.

The diminishing bird populations in Guam has an adverse effect on the surrounding tree populations, too. Researcher Haldre Rogers from the University of Colorado discovered that only fewer than 10 percent of the seeds they scattered throughout the forest on Guam and nearby islands made it to the immediate vicinity of their parent tree. On the other hand, on the snake-free islands, it could reach to about 60 percent of the seeds, according to Science Alert.

The reduction of the tree populations is expected to drop between 61 percent and 92 percent in new forest growth. Another damage caused by this plague of snakes on the said island is the shorting out electrical systems that reach to about US$4.5 million for more than seven years now.

Meanwhile, Vice is hopeful for solutions that would keep native species flourish. She said that she does not think that Guam's native species will go extinct because there are efforts to maintain those, just like they have efforts with the Guam rail bird. On the other hand, she further said that the limestone forest is now extremely endangered. She is still hoping for other efforts such as the new mice drop capability that could reduce, control and prevent the spread of the snakes to other islands. 

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