“As God is my witness, I thought mice could fly.”
Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam’s jungle canopy. They are scientists’ prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.
Most of Guam’s native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island’s thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.
… The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.
Hey, kid, I’ll give you a nickel for every dead snake you bring me! Okay, just kidding. Put the machete down, Junior. We’ll just stuff some dead mice with aspirin, because that’s poisonous to snakes, and then drop them from helicopters. That’ll work.
The mice won’t just be dropped to fall willy-nilly, though. They’ll be dropped gently:
Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.
U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade…
More than a decade!
…with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.
To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.
They’re just trying to control the population in that area, though, because they’re afraid the snakes will get onto a plane and make their way to, for example, Hawaii.
I just wish I could have been in the room when this plan was hatched. Because, c’mon, did they consider explosives? Tiny little bombs that go off when exposed to reptilian digestive enzymes?
If I’d been there, they would have.