Sherri Paul of the State Division of Forestry & Wildlife checked a water feature at the entrance to the Lihue Airport yesterday as part of the search for a 4-foot brown snake spotted near the airport entrance this week.

Signs of reptile
elude searchers

The hunt likely will be canceled
next week if no clues are found

LIHUE » Government workers searched an area at Lihue Airport yesterday, from flower beds to small trees and drainage areas, finding toads, lizards and cockroaches but no sign of a 4-foot brown snake.

For the fourth day, no signs of the snake, spotted Monday by a 16-year-old visitor from California, were found, team members said. The search is expected to continue through the weekend.

No other similar reports have been made to the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, said Jackie Kozak, the outreach relations specialist.

Using 3-foot-long poles with hooks at the end, the group walked along Kapule Highway at the entrance to the airport, searching an area in a 250-meter radius.

One of the problems, said Scott Williamson of the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, was the difficulty in identifying the species of snake, which would help the team determine where to look. The former sugar cane fields also are a great snake hiding spot but nearly impossible to search because of the thick, dense vegetation.

"It could be in the ground or in a tree," Williamson said. "For the most part, snakes like drier refuge."

Forty-five traps have also been set up around the perimeter of the search area, but they also have netted no results, Kozak said.

The searches are likely to be called off early next week if no signs of the snake are found, officials said.

In March, traps could not capture a 3-foot brown snake spotted in a Kona Palisades back yard. Last year, searchers and traps could not catch a 3-foot snake seen slithering on Hana Road on Maui.

The last snake found on Kauai was in March 2003, when a 4-foot-long gopher snake was run over and captured on Kuhio Highway about a mile and a half away from the current site.

Snake reports can be made to the Pest Hot Line, 586-PEST (7378). Captive snakes can be surrendered to the Department of Agriculture under the state's amnesty program.

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