Friday, March 11, 2005

Brown tree snake
fears calmed

Officials say a sighting in the Kona
area does not quite fit the species

KAILUA-KONA » State officials say a snake seen six miles north of Kailua-Kona on March 3 might not be a brown tree snake.

But that does not lessen their desire to catch it, said Deborah Ward, of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The state came up with the changed assessment after a detailed interview with the man who spotted the 2 1/2- to 3-foot snake on an undeveloped 8-acre parcel near the Kona Palisades subdivision.

The interview revealed that the Kona snake has a head about the same diameter as its body, Ward said.

Brown tree snakes have large heads compared with their very thin bodies.

Also, the Kona snake was spotted during the day. Brown tree snakes are active at night.

The department had warned from the start that no one should jump to conclusions about the species.

Brown trees snakes, originally from the New Guinea area, have devastated wildlife on Guam and could do the same here.

Eleven workers from four state and federal agencies did a sweep of six acres yesterday, Ward said. The remaining two acres of the parcel are too thickly vegetated to walk in, but officials continue monitoring 40 traps set in the hope of catching it, she said.

The state Department of Health has also been trapping wild mice in the area to deprive the snake of food, hopefully forcing it to go after bait in the snake traps, she said.

Yesterday ended the first week of searching, which could continue for two more weeks, Ward said.

State Dept. of Land & Natural Resources

E-mail to City Desk


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