HONOLULU – Marine Corps Base (MCB) Hawai`i received a report of a possible snake sighting aboard the base at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday morning (4/16). A base resident described observing a brownish-green snake approximately two feet in length. MCB Hawai`i reported the incident to Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA), which sent Plant Quarantine inspectors to the site.
Following the report, MCB Hawai`i personnel conducted an immediate search of the area. HDOA inspectors also conducted a brief search that afternoon, followed by a search in the evening with a team of 18 trained brown treesnake detection personnel from state and federal agencies. No snakes were detected in any of the searches. Three snake traps were set Wednesday night.
Yesterday, HDOA personnel set four additional traps and will continue to monitor the area for the next few weeks.
“We are extremely concerned any time there is a report of a snake sighting in our islands,” said Domingo Cravalho, Jr., Plant Quarantine Inspection & Compliance Section Chief. “We have been fortunate to have local staff receive training in Guam in brown treesnake detection and that has assisted us greatly in implementing our rapid response program.
“This incident also underscores the importance of continued federal funding of snake inspection and interdiction programs in Guam, Hawai`i and throughout the Pacific.” added Cravalho.
Yesterday’s snake sighting happens to coincide with an annual Brown Treesnake Working Group Meeting being held this week in Waikiki. Those attending the meeting include snake experts from Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) and the U.S. Mainland. Some of the attendees accompanied HDOA personnel on the snake search on Wednesday night.
Topics covered at the three-day meeting include invasive species issues associated with military growth on Guam and CNMI and increasing inspection capacity and regulations to prevent the transport of BTS to Hawai`i and other ports.
MCB Hawai`i has an Air Facility that receives transient international aircraft from all over the Pacific. All aircraft arriving from areas other than the Hawaiian Islands or U.S. Mainland require a prior permission request with at least a 24-hour advance notice before arriving to Marine Corps Air Facility, MCB Hawai`i.
All aircraft arriving from areas other than the Hawaiian Islands or U.S. Mainland go through a stringent inspection process. All military aircraft are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture prior to departing Guam. Aircraft arriving in Hawai`i from Guam are also inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and HDOA.
Snakes are illegal in Hawai`i. No one, including military personnel, is authorized to bring snakes into the state. If anyone has any information about a snake aboard the base, please call the MCB Hawai`i Military Police Department at 257-2103, ext. 1 or call the State’s toll-free pest hotline at 643-PEST (7378).
“We appreciate the concern, assistance and access that the Marine Corps Base Hawai`i has provided during this incident,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “It takes all of us to protect Hawai`i.”
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