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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Research Project #438938

Research Project: Refinement of Artificial Brown Treesnake Bait and Planning for Increased Production Capacity

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Project Number: 8072-41000-107-03-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

The Brown Treesnake (BTS; Boiga irregularis) is extremely abundant on Guam, with localized population density estimates among the highest snake densities ever recorded. The BTS was accidentally introduced to Guam in the late 1940s or early 1950s, probably from the Admiralty Islands. A native of Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, the BTS has been and continues to be a threat to the economy and ecology of Guam and is currently the subject of a cooperative program to control snake populations on the island and prevent its spread throughout the Pacific Rim. Because of the significant ecological and economic damage caused by the BTS on Guam, the potential for the snake to be spread to other Pacific Islands is of great concern.

Task 1: Scale up artificial bait production to meet mid-range testing and interdiction demands. Current bait production capacity is one batch of 80 baits per day. Materials for bait production currently cost 8.75 cents per bait. Salary and benefits for the current bait production technician is $277.50 per day. Including labor, at the current output, each artificial bait will cost $3.56. If we can triple the daily capacity of a single technician, the price per bait will drop to $1.24 (a 65% decrease in cost). Under this task, ARS will work with NWRC to: 1) design a workflow and procure necessary equipment to increase in-house bait production at the NWRC Hawaii Field Station, tripling the daily bait production of the one production technician, to meet the research demands for baits; and 2) develop a prospectus for production of sufficient quantities of baits to meet the near term demands of the interdiction program (est. 125,000 baits per year). Task 2: Evaluate and improve palatability of bait with incorporated acetaminophen and Greek acid whey (GAW) If preliminary testing by NWRC indicates BTS taste aversion or reduced efficacy due to unencapsulated acetaminophen in the bait matrix, ARS will evaluate possible sources of encapsulated acetaminophen and methods for incorporation into the bait matrix or flavor masking using GAW. Task 3: Evaluate alternative form factors for artificial bait. Under this task, ARS will evaluate options for molding, extrusion, or “sausage” casing of artificial bait matrix and prospects for adhering the product into bait capsules. These results will inform plans for incorporation of a final bait form factor into the automated bait manufacturing system (Task 4). Task 4: Prospectus for incorporation of artificial bait into the ABMS Along with NWRC, ARS will conduct a formal consultation with Applied Design Corporation to develop a roadmap for large-scale incorporation of the final bait format (Task 3) into the automated bait cartridge assembly system (ABMS). This work will include a frank assessment of: 1) the relative cost-effectiveness of substituting artificial bait for mice in the system; and 2) the cost-effectiveness of development and registration of a bait and bait manufacturing system that includes acetaminophen in the matrix versus adhesion or forming around a tablet.