18th CES pest management works with local researcher, sets snake traps
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- (Editor's note: This is the final article in a series of articles about the habu snake.)
Approximately 49 snake traps were set throughout the 18th Munitions Squadron storage area here by Okinawa Prefectural Institute of Health and Environment lab researchers June 25.
18th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management personnel teamed up with the researchers to aid in the removal of two habu snake species located on Okinawa.
"Introduced species ... compete with the species that are already here so it doesn't belong here and jeopardizes the livelihood of the species, like the Okinawa Habu and other snakes," said Maj. Wesley Walker, Detachment 3 U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine medical entomology and public health consultant. "If you get too many of these snakes and they don't have predators, they can start to prey on other (animals) we do like, such as endangered birds."
On Okinawa, four species of the habu exist; the Okinawa and Hime Habu are both native, and the Taiwan and Sakishima Habu, are introduced species.
"(The habu) is a poisonous snake so if it's introduced, we want to kill them because it's not good for the Okinawan environment," said Koki Terada, Okinawa Prefectural Government Institute of Health and Environment lab researcher.
Walker added that if a Taiwan Habu or another introduced species is caught, Terada will remove them from the environment, but if a native habu is caught, it will be released back into the environment in order to keep nature balanced.
"We're not trying to get rid of all the habus, just the ones that were introduced," Walker said. "(Terada) is really an ecologist as well as a snake handler because he's looking at the ecology and the health of all the animals on the island and how this snake can change that."
In order to capture and remove these introduced species, Terada and pest management personnel placed snake traps, containing a live mouse which will be alive for approximately three weeks, within the Okinawan jungle in the 18th MUNS storage area.
"There is a live mouse in the trap with mice food and water, and if the habu finds the mouse and gets inside the trap, he'll never get out," Terada added.
Terada said he needs more information about the Taiwan Habu, and if anyone sees these snakes, contact the 18th CES pest management flight with locations so they can take care of the situation, especially if these snakes are located on base.