WAILUKU – Bring a flashlight to a workshop on Wednesday arranged to teach residents how to locate the invasive brown tree snake, which has overwhelmed parts of Guam.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ office, the state Department of Agriculture and Division of Forestry and Wildlife along with the Maui Invasive Species Committee are hosting the free event from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kahului Community Center annex, at 275 Uhu St.
Live snakes and other prohibited species will be on display, and participants are asked to bring a flashlight for use in a snake-detection exercise that uses dummy snakes.
The session also will provide information about the snakes, including their biology and behavior and why people should be concerned about their possible introduction here. A key part of the meeting will involve what to do and whom to contact if a snake were sighted. Snakes are not native to Hawaii.
Guam has faced a long battle against brown tree snakes in particular, which arrived with the military buildup on the island over the past 30 years. In a news release, Tavares said there is growing concern that Hawaii could be at risk because there is so much trade between the Pacific islands.
“The brown tree snake is adept at hiding itself in small spaces during the day and is easily concealed and inadvertently transported in cargo shipments,” she said. “A partnership of state and county agencies is presenting opportunities for the public to learn how to help prevent the brown tree snake from taking root here.”
The mayor said the snakes present a threat to Maui and the rest of Hawaii’s economy, public health and safety. The snakes have been known to inadvertently cause power outages when they climb lines and often feed on native bird populations.
If brown snakes were to come to Hawaii, one conservative estimate is a loss of $578 million annually due to missed work days, damaged tourism and killed poultry.
Tavares said officials are holding similar training sessions for government and Maui Electric Co. employees and cruise line, shipping and tree-trimming company workers as well as people who do wildlife conservation fieldwork.
For more information, call county Environmental Coordinator Kuhea Paracuelles at 270-8299.