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The Risk to Hawai'i from Snakes

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Title: The Risk to Hawai'i from Snakes
Authors: Kraus, Fred
Cravalho, Domingo
Issue Date: Oct 2001
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Kraus F, Cravalho D. 2001. The risk to Hawai'i from snakes. Pac Sci 55(4): 409-417.
Abstract: We assessed the risk to Hawai'i's native species and human quality of
life posed by the introduction of alien snake species. An examination of Hawai'i
Department of Agriculture records from 1990 to 2000 indicated hundreds of
credible snake sightings in the state, mostly of free-roaming animals that were
not recovered. These snakes arrived primarily through smuggling of pet animals,
but some snakes are accidentally introduced as cargo stowaways. Most recovered
specimens are of species potentially capable of inflicting substantial
harm to native birds and the poultry industry if they become established. Some
may affect native freshwater fish. An analysis of the frequency with which snakes
are smuggled into the state, the suitability of the local environment to snake
welfare, and the ecological threats posed by recovered snake species leads us to
conclude that snakes pose a continuing high risk to Hawai'i. Mitigation of this
threat can only be achieved by altering the human behavior leading to their
widespread introduction. There are a variety of reasons why this behavior has
not been successfully curtailed heretofore, and we propose a series of measures
that should reduce the rate of snake introduction into Hawai'i. Failure to
achieve this reduction will make successful establishment of ecologically dangerous
snakes in Hawai'i a virtual certainty.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 55, Number 4, 2001

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