From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:

HONOLULU––Preparing to
reintroduce Guam rails to Guam in
October, a decade after the flightless bird
species was extinguished from its native
habitat by accidentally introduced brown
tree snakes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service warned at a late July symposium
in Honolulu that the snakes could likewise
devastate Hawaiian wildlife, if ever
allowed to establish themselves.
The symposium came 10 days
after Hawaii Department of Land and
Natural Resources chief Mike Wilson
announced bans on the transportation or
release of Jackson’s chameleons, apple
snails, red-eared slider turtles, and ringnecked

“Each year the managers of our
natural area reserves spend nearly 75% of
their budgets fighting the spread of harmful
plants and animals,” Wilson reportedly
told Ben DiPietro of Associated
Press, with a show-stealing five-inch
Jackson’s chameleon on his shoulder.
EnviroWatch founder Carroll
Cox, of Milalanii, Hawaii, was skeptical.
Only six brown tree snakes, he
noted, have been found in cargos going
from Guam to Hawaii during this
decade––and only one since specially
trained Jack Russell terriers were
deployed to detect them in 1994.
Cox pointed out that the Fish
and Wildlife Service at the time of the
symposium was trying to persuade
Congress to add $1 million to the $1.6
million it received to keep snakes out of
Hawaii last year. The level of federal
funding for the program helps to maintain
state funding for similar work.
If brown tree snakes do get to
Hawaii, Cox added, they will find in
feral mongooses a clever predator they
didn’t have in Guam. But that’s assuming
the Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA
Wildlife Services, National Park Service,
Nature Conservancy, and other influential
bioxenophobes don’t re-escalate
failed attempts to extirpate the mongooses,
as alleged threats to rare birds.
Meanwhile, Cox contends,
other federal activities kill far more
threatened and endangered birds than
mongooses do––including trapping and
gunnery to extirpate feral pigs, goats,
and non-native “nuisance” birds, which
results in significant “accidental take.”
Native to India, mongooses
were imported to Hawaii to control rats,
another non-native species, circa 1880.

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