Posted at 7:37 a.m., Monday, November 19, 2007
Micronesians push U.S. on brown tree snake protection
Associated PressSAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands Micronesian leaders have jointly asked U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to implement a long-term policy to prevent the U.S. military from spreading brown tree snakes around the Pacific from Guam.
Five regional leaders, including Gov. Benigno Fitial of the Marianas and Palau President Tommy Remengesau, signed a joint letter to Gates with their request.
Brown tree snakes hitched rides to Guam from their native Solomon Islands aboard military transportation during World War II. In the six decades since, the invasive species is believed to have pushed nine of Guam's native bird species into extinction.
Funding to prevent the spread of the snakes to other islands in the Pacific is already in the budget for the current fiscal year.
But the island leaders said long-term planning for new facilities and operations on Guam and all of Micronesia is needed.
They asked Gates to support moves to develop new tools to detect snakes and other new pests in the region.
"Over the long term, supporting research that will lead to the island-wide eradication of this invasive species will provide the highest level of protection for all neighboring islands," the letter said.
They also said tough inspections were critically important.
"We request that policy be instituted to make 100 percent brown tree snake inspection an integral cost of doing business in the Pacific for the military," the communique stated.
Other signatories were: Guam Gov. Felix P. Camacho, Yap Gov. Sebastian, and Federated States of Micronesia Foreign Affairs Secretary Lorin Robert on behalf of President Emanuel Mori.