New snake traps deployed at JBPHH

Keevin Minami, land vertebrates specialist for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, installs a live bait snake trap near a runway at JBPHH.

Story and photo by MC2 Gabrielle Joyner

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

Personnel from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii, and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) added new snake traps to the 12 already deployed near Hickam Field at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), Sept. 29.

The traps have been set up by NAVFAC and the HDOA as part of a joint effort to provide a program for early detection of the highly invasive brown tree snake.

These snake traps are a precautionary measure to detect for possible snakes that can hide in the wheel wells of cargo planes.

” We are trying to put the traps in strategic areas, especially where cargo is offloaded or where aircrafts are parked,” said Keevin Minami, land vertebrates specialist for the HDOA. “In the past we’ve found a few snakes on runways and even found a live one that made it all the way to Schofield Barracks.”

The last tree snake was found at JBPHH in 2013; no new sightings or captures have been reported since. However, both JBPHH and the HDOA are committed to being pro-active when it comes to the prevention of invasive species in Hawaii.

“The State of Hawaii, the Pacific Region and JBPHH all have biosecurity plans in place that strive to provide early detection, rapid response and subsequent eradication and control for invasive species, should they ever arrive in Hawaii,” said Rebecca Smith, JBPHH natural resource manager at NAVFAC Hawaii, Environmental Planning.

“It is important for the Navy to play its role in protecting Hawaii’s unique flora and fauna while maintaining operational readiness.”

According to Smith, the impact to Hawaii’s wild-life would be devastating if brown tree snakes were to get a foothold in Hawaii.

The brown tree snake has no natural predators in Hawaii, so its numbers would easily grow out of control.

Moreover, Hawaii’s unique fauna, particularly Hawaii’s forest birds, do not have sufficient natural defenses to protect themselves.

“Helping to support this early detection program is a ‘no-brainer’ for the installation and its leadership because it gives us our best chance to ensure this invasive snake does not get loose in Hawaii,” Smith said.

If residents come across a snake, or any exotic animal thought to be unnatural to Hawaii, they are strongly encouraged to call 643-PEST (7378).

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Category: News