July 21, 2011 by staff
Hawaii Snakes, Hawaii has been very successful in preventing snakes from entering the island paradise in recent years and avoid the serious danger to tropical birds, plants and vibrant environment that attracts millions of tourists the state each year. However, the recent capture of pet snakes escaped – illegal in Hawaii – Guam and the infestation of brown tree snake, which could easily get here by cargo ships, have alarmed officials of environment and agriculture.
Without any natural predators, authorities say there is not much for the snakes to take root and multiply, which could kill endangered birds and flowers that make the islands special. Hawaii, home to endangered species more per square mile than anywhere else in the world could suffer the same fate as Guam, brown tree snakes which invaded the island after World War II and wiped most the birds of heaven.
“It has a high potential to be devastating to Hawaii,” said Earl Campbell, assistant field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I would look at Guam as the template for what might happen in a series of tropical islands of the Pacific do not have snakes.”
Hawaii is so serious about keeping snakes that the fine for illegal possession of an animal can get to 200,000 and a maximum of three years in prison. But the owners of the snake are granted amnesty if they willingly turn over their pets.
Residents who illegally keeping snakes as pets a huge risk when the reptiles escape or are released into the wild. A 9-foot boa and 7-foot albino Burmese python was captured this month.
“No snake pet friendly, because everything is going to take the next earthquake, tsunami or hurricane to fly to all venues and introduce to the islands all the animals were kept in a house,” said Fern Duvall, a wildlife biologist for the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Maui. “It’s really a serious problem.”
Besides the threat pet snake, environmentalists also fear that snakes could find their way to Hawaii, hitchhiking on cargo ships without being detected by the shortage of agricultural inspectors.
If nesting and breeding snakes, will soon be too late to stop and the islands of Hawaii could be changed forever, said Christy Martin, spokeswoman for the Coordinating Group of the State in species of exotic pests.
“It is our moral responsibility to try to stay away as long as possible. I do not look forward to future generations, saying, ‘I really dropped the ball on that. Before there were birds of Hawaii,’” said Martin.
The number of sightings of snakes varies from year to year, but has been rising, said Carol Okada, director of the Hawaii Department of Plant Quarantine Branch of Agriculture.
There was an average of about 24 reported sightings of snakes throughout the state between 1990 and 2000, according to a 2001 study entitled “Risks to Hawaii from the snakes,” Pacific published in Science. Okada said there were 36 reports of snake in 2008, with data from other recent years are not available immediately.
“We want that trend to continue,” said Okada. “In Hawaii, with all its lush vegetation, do not want to be worried about snakes while walking.”
An invasion of snakes that have far-reaching effects on the islands, ever changing scenery, Duvall said.
First, eat bird eggs and small birds, including 34 species of forest birds threatened with extinction are found in Hawaii, as parrotbill Maui, Hawaii and honeymooners cckscomb, he said. Spider webs covering the trees and forests, without obscuring the birds to kill them. Insect populations than the pen. Power outages increase as snakes hanging from power lines.
These consequences have already occurred in Guam, according to Campbell, saying that snakes are not established through the landscape in almost three decades.
The catch this month in Oahu, the snakes seemed to be pets, agriculture officials said. Hunters of pigs in a dirt road found the docile boa constrictor, and the python has recovered from a house after police received a tip.
The black market trade in the pet is largely responsible for snakes to find their way into the islands, said Martin.
Snake enthusiasts find dealers via the Internet and send e-baby snakes in Hawaii in small boxes, he said. Pet stores will not send legitimate snakes in Hawaii, he said.
With only 50 inspectors in agriculture throughout the state, compared to 95 in 2009 because of budget cuts and layoffs, the state has difficulty in catching snakes when they are mailed, he said. Efforts to prevent the escape of snakes in Guam have been more successful, and only a brown tree snake has been found in Hawaii from an inspection program began in Guam in 1994, said Campbell.
Organizations like the Humane Society of Hawaii help to eliminate islands of pet snakes for pick of homes without asking questions, spokeswoman Jacque LeBlanc.
“In the case of the boa was found that the boa was big enough to eat a cat or hurt a child,” said LeBlanc. “They are dangerous to humans and other animals.”
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