HomeNewsFeatures

Feature Search

USDA dogs sniff out snakes

Striker, a U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog, rests after play time with his handler April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. A minimum of 30 minutes of daily play time is required in order to foster the relationship between handler and dog as well as burn off the dog’s excess energy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Striker, a U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog, rests after play time with his handler April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. A minimum of 30 minutes of daily play time is required in order to foster the relationship between handler and dog as well as burn off the dog’s excess energy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Striker, a U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog, scratches at a cargo load notifying his handler that he has found a snake during a daily training session April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. All USDA snake dogs are acquired from various rescue shelters in the Atlanta, Ga., area and are selected based on temperament, willingness to work, motivation, and prey drive.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Striker, a U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog, scratches at a cargo load notifying his handler that he has found a snake during a daily training session April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. All USDA snake dogs are acquired from various rescue shelters in the Atlanta, Ga., area and are selected based on temperament, willingness to work, motivation, and prey drive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Tony Thompson, U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog handler, and Striker, Striker, a USDA brown tree snake detector dog, inspect an aircraft prior to departure April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. With the utilization of the 17 active detector dog teams and 4,000 traps, the USDA has helped significantly prevent the spread of the brown tree snakes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Tony Thompson, U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog handler, and Striker, Striker, a USDA brown tree snake detector dog, inspect an aircraft prior to departure April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. With the utilization of the 17 active detector dog teams and 4,000 traps, the USDA has helped significantly prevent the spread of the brown tree snakes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Striker, a U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog, inspects an aircraft prior to departure April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. All Department of Defense aircraft, household goods, vehicles and cargo are required to be searched prior to departure in order to prevent the establishment of the snakes in other regions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Striker, a U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog, inspects an aircraft prior to departure April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. All Department of Defense aircraft, household goods, vehicles and cargo are required to be searched prior to departure in order to prevent the establishment of the snakes in other regions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Tony Thompson, U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog handler, and Striker, a USDA brown tree snake detector dog,  inspect a vehicle during a training session April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. All USDA snake dogs are acquired from various rescue shelters in the Atlanta, Ga., area and are selected based on temperament, willingness to work and prey drive.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Tony Thompson, U.S. Department of Agriculture brown tree snake detector dog handler, and Striker, a USDA brown tree snake detector dog, inspect a vehicle during a training session April 30, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. All USDA snake dogs are acquired from various rescue shelters in the Atlanta, Ga., area and are selected based on temperament, willingness to work and prey drive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- With the utilization of 17 active detector dog teams, 3,400 traps and toxicants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture captured approximately 8,300 brown tree snakes here on Guam last year.

According to USDA research, the brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to Guam in the late 1940s or early 1950s, probably from the Solomon Islands. Native to northeastern Australia, eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, the brown tree snake has significantly damaged the ecology and impacted the economy of the island.

Helping capture these snakes are the Brown Tree Snake Detector Dogs, who significantly help prevent the spread of the brown tree snakes. 

"Being natural born hunters, the dogs actually enjoy working and looking for the snakes," said Tony Thompson, USDA dog handler.

All Jack Russell terriers that are acquired for the program come from various rescue shelters in the Atlanta, Ga., area near the National Detector Dog Training Center. The dogs are selected based on temperament, willingness to work, and prey drive.
After selection, the dogs are trained by a certified USDA trainer and introduced to their handler. The handler and dog will work together for the remainder of their time in the program.

"The brown tree snake is a very effective predator and has had a catastrophic effect on the avian population on Guam with 10 of 12 species gone," said Marc Hall, USDA canine program manager. "Scientists are still studying the cascade effects of the loss of bird species but it is safe to say that the impact is significant to island ecology in the region. All islands in the Pacific region are at risk should the snakes establish a population where they arrive."

In order to prevent the establishment of the snakes in other regions, Wildlife Services, a part of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, conducts regular operations on Guam to keep the brown tree snakes from reaching other destinations. Wildlife service teams use snake trapping and spotlight searches.

The terriers are used for these searches because they are agile and highly energetic. All Department of Defense aircraft, household goods, vehicles and cargo are required to be searched by them prior to departure.

"By inspecting items and aircraft per the regulatory requirements, the wing is able to continue its mission of employing airpower," Hall said.

When a dog locates a snake, they know to scratch in the area the snake is and wait for their handler's instruction.

Being a nocturnal species, the snake is most often found in the jungle and along fence lines. It may be attracted to residential areas by rodents, lizards, poultry, or debris that serves as habitat for snake prey.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, the brown tree snake will readily strike when aggravated, but it does not present a danger to most adults.  A bite from this snake will not penetrate most clothing.  However, the brown tree snake is mildly venomous.  Its bite can cause severe sickness in young children, the elderly, or people with a weakened immune system.

Simple precautions, such as keeping doors and screens secured, screening air ducts and pipes that open to the outdoors, keeping garbage and pet food in secured containers, and removing surrounding vegetation may make a building less attractive to the snakes.

"Be vigilant," Hall said. "When working with items that are being packed thoroughly check for snakes or other pest species and do not leave boxes and containers open overnight."

To report a brown tree snake sighting in on-base housing or in military cargo and transportation departing the island, contact Wildlife Services at 366-3822.

Social Media

Facebook Twitter
Not just a right - It's your responsibility. #Vote
Tomorrow (Jan 31st) CE Customer Service and both Andersen Family and Unaccompanied Housing Offices will be closed from 11 A.M.–4 P.M. For emergencies, please see additional information below: CE Customer Service: For any emergency issues, please call 366-2916/2917/2918. All other non-emergency issues can be sent to the CE Customer Service email org box at 36ces.service@us.af.mil. Housing Office: For any urgent Housing matters, please call 366-6240 or 653-4731. Normal operating hours will resume Monday, 3 February. Thank you, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron
The Readiness & Emergency Management Flight will be conducting training today (Jan 30) from 7 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.. It will involve personnel driving around base in MOPP 4 and setting out detectors on main base. It is all for training purpose only.
Congratulations to our 4th Quarterly Award winners! Airman of the Quarter: SrA Tiffany Arquette- 36th Mission Support Group Non-commissioned Officer of the Quarter: SSgt Bryan Koch- 36th Mission Support Group Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Quarter: MSgt Coreena Dejesus-36th Wing Staff Agency Company Grade Officer of the Quarter: 2Lt Megan Barrick- 36th Maintenance Group Civilian Category I of the Quarter: Mr. Nathan Atalig- 36th Mission Support Group Civilian Category II of the Quarter: Mr. Shawn McMahon – 36th Mission Support Group Civilian Category III of the Quarter: Ms. Lucy Benavente - 36th Wing Staff Agency Honor Guard of the Quarter: SrA Brandi Dennis – 36th Communications Squadron Volunteer of the Quarter: SSgt Duawana Robinson – 36th Maintenance Group Team of the Quarter: Family Health- 36th Medical Group
Don't miss this great training opportunity on Sexual Assault Awareness, Prevention, and Bystander Intervention, 31st Jan, 11 A.M. at the Meehan Theater. This event is FREE and open to all! Joint Region Marianas
Andersen is proud to host the U.S. Navy's Tritons!
Congratulations to Staff Sgt. Jolesa Scott from the 36th Force Support Squadron team for being recognized as one of Team Andersen's Best! Great job!
#TeamAndersenDYK the fire prevention experts recommend to never leave open flames or cooking unattended, to check lint traps regularly as well as checking electrical outlets to make sure they are being used properly. In addition, family members of all ages should know and follow a shared emergency escape plan. Andersen firefighters recommend that, in case of fire, residents use their established escape plan and proceed to a designated rally point, a safe distance away from the flames and smoke. Once outside, immediately call 911 and describe the situation to dispatchers as calmly as possible. Fires happen sporadically, so please pay attention to your housekeeping, your surroundings and when you’re cooking or even just near a flame. #safety
Calling all football fans and history buffs!!! Immediately after World War II, the American military stationed in the South Pacific began playing full-contact football - pads and all. Andersen Air Force Base's Gilkeson Field, named after Brig. Gen. Adlai H. Gilkeson, commanding general of the 19th Bombardment Wing from 1949 to 1951, served as home of the North Field Bombers, the base football team! Teams in Japan, the Philippines, and Guam played in local military leagues, occasionally flying long distances to compete. A league champ on Guam wasn't determined until 1947, when the 1st Marine Brigade and the 501st Port Battalion tied for the island championship. The North Field (later Andersen) Bombers went undefeated in the 1948 season to capture the island title, which began a long legacy of the most successful football team on Guam for the next 34 years. The Bombers won at least 17 league/island championships - including 11 titles in a row from 1955 to 1966. The last Bomber championship was in 1974. Other teams on the island were also rich in tradition and history. In short, while the Navy dominated the league with their number of teams in action, it was the Andersen Bombers that dominated on the scoreboard and in the standings. The Bombers lasted until the leagues' end after the 1981 season. #TeamAndersen #TBT #NorthFieldBombers Joint Region Marianas US Naval Base Guam U.S. Pacific Air Forces 1st Marine Brigade
Every flight starts with planning! And a trip to Aircrew Flight Equipment. AFE Airmen maintain equipment used by pilots, which are essential for survival capabilities. AFE Airmen provide direct support to the Continuous Bomber Presence. Thanks, AFE!
The United States, along with Mexico and the Philippines, were ranked one of the world's worst places for human trafficking in 2018. In the U.S., there is no official number of human trafficking victims, but estimates place it in the hundreds of thousands. Look for these indicators to help combat human trafficking.
WARNING: Security Forces will deny access to the base and/or issue fines for not updating your vehicle registration or not having insurance.
Exercise the very right you protect - your right to vote! We can help with registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot and notifying your local election officials back home of a change of address. Below is Voter Registration application, Absentee Ballot Request form (SF-76), and mailing address. This form is for Uniformed Service members, family members of voting age, DoD civilians, and citizens residing outside the United States. You may access many voting related questions and answers on the FVAP website at http://www.fvap.gov. Please click the link below to access the direct-to-voter training video which goes through the process step by step. https://www.fvap.gov/militaryhowto If you have any questions please contact your designated squadron UVAO or IVAO at DSN: 366-8137 or email: Andersen.vote@us.af.mil
Congratulations to Staff Sgt. Shannen Lisbourne from the 36th WG/JA team for being recognized as one of Team Andersen's Best! Great job!
#TeamAndersenDYK every day in the United States, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S. Many Airmen and families enjoy swimming within the shallow water, but some choose to swim beyond the reef into deeper depths. Since there is no continental shelf around Guam, the landmass underwater does not have a gradual slope; therefore, the water depth drops suddenly. Swimmers are advised not to swim beyond the reef and into the deep open water to avoid hazardous waves and currents or other harmful conditions. Alcohol is also a major cause of water-related incidents. Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation, according to the CDC. Drinking alcohol causes a lack of coordination, disturbance of the inner ear, impaired reaction time and impaired judgment, which can cause someone to become injured or drown while swimming. Please be safe when out swimming. Never swim alone, drink while swimming, and pay attention to the flag conditions. #safety
Way to go, Security Forces! Sen. Joe San Augustin from the 35th Guam Legislature presented Airmen from the 36th Security Forces Squadron with a legislative resolution and certificates of appreciation, recognizing their volunteer efforts throughout the island community, Jan.16 at Tarague Beach. #TeamAndersen #OneGuam #Community #GoodNeighbors The Office of Senator Joe S. San Agustin Joint Region Marianas U.S. Pacific Air Forces The Guam Legislature
Showing love to Guam and promoting #environmental stewardship with #partners! Airmen from the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron and 190th Air Refueling Wing - Kansas Air National Guard partnered with Sailors from Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen and members of Love Guam for a roadside cleanup Jan. 11 in Yigo. #OneGuam #GreenGuam #GoodNeighbors #Community #TeamAndersen #TeamAndersenTBT Joint Region Marianas U.S. Pacific Air Forces Yigo Mayor's Office
The "First Lady" of Andersen Air Force Base has retired. Please join Team Andersen in giving our thanks and well wishes to Mrs. Joyce Martratt after her more than 54 years of service to the U.S. Air Force. Mrs. Joyce has been guiding and assisting the leadership of AAFB as an invaluable secretary since the height of the Vietnam war. Serving with 27 general officers during her tenure, she has been essential in the continued success of Andersen, and by extension the security and safety of the indo-pacific region. Thank you for all that you have done for all of us in Team Andersen and may you have a blessed retirement. Si Yu'us ma'åse' Mrs. Joyce U.S. Pacific Air Forces U.S. Indo-Pacific Command #retirement