Maui man recalls surprise
of seeing snake

The reported sighting has prompted
a hunt involving county, state
and federal workers

WAILUKU » East Maui resident Kanikauwila Manrique said he and his friend James Oliveira were in a pickup truck heading south on Hana Road in Hamoa when they saw a snake in the road ahead of them about 9 p.m. Tuesday.

"It was like I seen a ghost," said Manrique, 22, an assistant cook at the Hotel Hana-Maui.

If you see a snake

» If a snake is sighted, call 911 immediately and try to continue to watch the snake to help to determine its location.

» Snake reports can be made to the Pest Hotline, 586-PEST (7378), and captive snakes can be surrendered under the state's amnesty program.

Manrique said the snake, traveling in the mauka direction across the road, was 3 feet long and about the thickness of a broomstick. "The top half was green and the bottom half was yellow," he said.

Manrique said he had "goose bumps" when he saw the snake about 20 feet in front of the moving truck; Oliveira reversed the pickup to see if they had run over the snake. But the snake was not there.

The reported sighting, determined to be credible by state officials, has prompted a massive snake hunt in the Hamoa area that includes a team of state, federal and county workers.

Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the snake might possibly be a brown tree snake, but "it's too soon to tell."

Wildlife experts fear the establishment of a snake population would have a devastating effect on the environment, including native bird populations.

Joining the team yesterday were several snake experts flown in from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, where the brown tree snake has had a major impact on the environment.

Ward said the experts were brought in because they know how to track and capture snakes.

Snake traps with live mice were expected to be laid in the rural Hana area last night.

State health officials are planning to set up more than 230 mousetraps to reduce the live mouse population and increase the chances of the snake being attracted to the food in the snake traps, said Mele Fong, spokeswoman for the Maui Invasive Species Committee.

The terrain of the search area has a moderate slope and is damp, old pastureland overgrown with lantana and Christmas berry, she said.

About 12 people searched and laid traps Thursday night, and snake experts from the Mariana Islands were expected to lend their expertise to the search last night, she said.

State wildlife biologist Fern Duvall, who is helping to coordinate the search, said he felt fortunate to have the Mariana Islands snake experts because they have firsthand experience.

Fong said the Maui Invasive Species Committee was grateful that the two Maui men alerted authorities.

"The message is it takes everyone's eyes. It's a community effort," she said.



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