The last few weeks, Senator John McCain has had some raspy-throated woman shilling for him in a political ad claiming that JD Hayworth voted for some snakes in Guam.
I decided to look into these “snakes” in Guam and instead of diving into the wealth of knowledge provided by the US Department of Agriculture and other scientific papers, I went to one of my favorite websites – YouTube! Here are a few clips about these “Brown Tree Snakes” that have invaded the island of Guam and devastated entire bird populations in addition to terrifying the citizens of Guam.
After viewing these videos, take a moment to read how these snakes are affecting the island of Guam and how they have even become a potential problem to Hawaii.
The Impact of Brown Tree Snakes on Guam’s Island Ecosystem
The spread of brown tree snakes throughout Guam is directly linked to changes in several animal populations. Eight species of forest birds, some found only on Guam, have disappeared from the island. Three other bird species are listed as threatened or endangered and remain in small numbers in the wild. Brown tree snakes eat young Mariana fruit bats (Pteropus mariannus mariannus), which are also listed as endangered on Guam. Small mammals are rare in forests and scrub habitat to begin with. Two gecko species once common on Guam are now considered rare, though they flourish on snake-free Cocos Island nearby. Indirectly, brown tree snakes may disrupt other aspects of Guam’s island ecosystem. Some native trees and plants that depend on birds and fruit bats for seed dispersal and pollination may not reproduce. Insects and spiders, normally controlled by forest birds, have become more abundant.
Substantial economic losses are associated with brown tree snakes. Guam Power Authority reports millions of dollars in increased costs and lost revenue caused by brown-tree-snake power outages. Snakes climb on electrical transmission lines and short-circuit wires. After snake-induced power outages, electrical distribution equipment frequently needs replacement or repair. Thus, maintenance crew costs rise with overtime and night shifts, compensation must be paid to consumers for damages to electrical equipment, and the need for backup equipment increases. Island residents incur additional costs when food spoils during power outages and shops have to close.
The agricultural community also reports losses due to the brown tree snake. These snakes eat valuable pet birds, young chickens, and chicken eggs. Snakes will often kill prey too large to be eaten, including puppies, rabbits, and young goats. Medical expenses for treatment of bites by brown tree snakes are an additional cost. No human fatalities are known.
Here are a few other resources on the Brown Tree Snake problem in Guam:
Finally, here’s the legislation related to the controlling “Snakes in Guam” H.R. 1588 otherwise known as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004
And the Roll Call Vote on the bill? Both Senator McCain and Kyl voted for the bill (H.R. 1588) as did 93 other US Senators.