Snake is on
the loose in Haiku

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> State officials are to resume a search for a snake, believed to be either a boa constrictor or a python, in the Awalau Street area in rural Haiku, Maui.

The search began Tuesday and continued yesterday, after Haiku resident Antonio Olivera reported a snake slithering across his boots while he was cutting cane grass about two weeks ago.

"It was dark green with brown patches, about 3 inches in diameter," Olivera said.

He told searchers the snake was 3 to 4 feet long.

Neighborhood homeowners thought they could catch the snake, not realizing the difficulty and seriousness of the situation, and alerted the state Tuesday, according to the Maui Invasive Species Committee.

Committee coordinator Jack Peterson said about nine people, including members from his group and state officials, have been involved in the search.

He said searchers are working on various strategies to find or lure the snake from its hiding place.

Searchers have hooked up an electrical extension cord and plan to use a warming device used in terrariums to lure the snake in the chill of the morning.

Peterson said they also are planning to bring in a backhoe to clear a cane grass area where the snake was last seen.

State wildlife officials are also looking into the possibility of using a snake-sniffing dog.

Peterson said they have found rats and mice in the cane grass area, so it seems promising that the snake is still there.

He said neighborhood animals have been continuing to act unusual, indicating the snake is still in the vicinity.

"The dogs have been excited. A pig was squealing all night," Peterson said.

Peterson said his group and state officials conducted a sweep of the area with rakes and machetes Tuesday but were unsuccessful.

State wildlife biologist Fern Duvall said while a boa constrictor or python is not considered dangerous to humans, all snakes are huge threats to the native environment in Hawaii, especially birds.

On Oahu, state agriculture officials say they have not had any new sightings of a snake, believed to be a boa constrictor, last spotted Aug. 22 near the Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center.

Anyone seeing a snake is asked to call 911 immediately, and the police will contact state officials.

Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori
contributed to this report.

E-mail to City Desk


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