SNAKE SIGHTING TRIGGERS SEARCH ON SAIPAN

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Mar. 24) – A snake has been sighted at the Saipan International Airport and experts, including a team from Guam, are now searching the area to catch it.

A confirmed snake sighting was reported by a Continental Airlines employee at about 1:15 a.m. on Sunday to Department of Lands and Natural Resources-Division of Fish and Wildlife staff.

The agency responded by setting up alert notices, snake traps and have begun conducting visual and canine searches in the area.

The sighting occurred on the west side of the main terminal building. The witness reported the snake as being green/brown in color and approximately 3 feet in length. The witness observed the snake for approximately 4 seconds before the snake fled under a nearby lumber pile. After several canine searches near and around the lumber pile it was confirmed that a snake might have taken refuge underneath the lumber.

CPA and AIC Marianas Inc. were notified and immediately dispatched staff, a fork lift, and flood lights to organize the lumber so that it could be searched by canines.

The USGS Rapid Response Team, based in Guam, was also called to assist in capturing the snake. The two teams have mapped out search patterns in the area and will scour for the next couple of weeks.

Several BTS detector dogs will be utilized during the day to attempt to locate the snake or, at the very least, narrow search efforts.

"The port workers should be especially alert during the evening hours as our CNMI ports are possibly the highest risk areas for a potential brown tree snake introduction," said DFW director Paul Hamilton.

Acting DLNR Secretary Jess Takai also expressed his concern by reminding residents that all snakes seen in the CNMI should be approached with caution and be reported immediately. If the snake sighted is confirmed as a brown tree snake, however, it may easily be killed by a blow to the head or body with a heavy object.

Brown tree snakes are typically described as brown to olive green in color, with yellowish bellies, a triangular shaped head that is noticeably larger than the neck, with vertical cat-like pupils.

"The [DLNR-DFW] would like to remind everyone that the CNMI has no native snake species. Therefore, it is extremely important to report all snake sightings to the DLNR-

March 24, 2005

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

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