In an effort to boost Guam’s bird population and prevent further damage to electrical equipment on the Andersen Air Force Base believed to be caused by snakes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently spent $8 million to have 2,000 mice sent on a covert mission to Guam.  Given snakes’ sensitivity to acetaminophen (Tylenol), the objective was to pump 2,000 mice full of the drug and have them transferred by helicopter where they were to parachute into Guam.  The hope, worth $8 million, was that 2,000 toxic mice would put a dent in the island’s snake population, which is at an estimated 2 million.  The M.M.A.O. (Mass Mice Assassination Operation) is the Department of Agriculture’s fourth attempt at ridding the island of its snake woes; once in 2010, once last year, and twice this year.

From an ecological standpoint, the islanders and the USDA are concerned about the dire bird population.  The overwhelming snake population has contributed to the extinction of 10 of 12 of Guam’s native birds.  (Is this not a prime example of natural selection, organisms competing for available resources? The same theory taught in our public school system, and the theory most subscribed to by liberals?)

So let us do the math.  If 2,000 mice spiked with Tylenol are devoured by 2 million snakes, that still leaves over 1.9 million snakes.  Clearly, this was not a wise investment.

We will examine a few other scenarios as well: Considering the fact that birds prey upon mice, and Tylenol is also toxic to birds, the government, ironically, is assisting in the birds’ suicide and extinction.

And then there is the fact that the little parachuting assassins are unable to detach themselves from their parachutes.  (This was methodically thought out by the USDA, as the parachutes will become snagged in the trees.)  While the brown tree snakes are able to slither up trees and capture the mice, birds are, too.  The parachutes attached to the mice pose a risk to the birds, as their talons can easily become tangled in the parachutes.

Birds are not solely what the government is trying to protect.  The Washington Times reported that the brown tree snakes are “responsible for millions of dollars worth of damage to electrical equipment at Andersen Air Force base.”  Obviously our assets need to be protected, but hiring mice to eliminate the issue was not effective the first, second, or third time.  The fourth time will not be the charm.

Brown tree snake venom is not poisonous to adult humans, but could pose a threat to infants.  No human deaths have been recorded as a result of a brown tree snake’s bite.  Rather than spending another $8 million on another failed operation, the USDA could have hired Guam locals to eradicate the problem.  There are an estimated 2 million snakes; place a $.50 bounty on the head of each snake, and an estimated total of $1 million is circulating in the Guam economy.  Less power outages for the locals and our assets on the air force base are better protected.

It should not have cost taxpayers $8 million to pay scientists to inject Tylenol into 2,000 mice; place parachutes on the backs of each mouse, and fuel a helicopter by which the mice were transported.  An $8 million operation may not seem like much in comparison to our $17 trillion debt, but disposable money is how we got into the mess we are in to begin with.


Atarah Golden | Cecil College | @AtarahGolden