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New project started to eliminate mongoose

Date Posted: 2009-12-17

The Javan mongoose brought to Okinawa in 1910 to stem a large Habu snake population has gone wild, as the animal population is spreading and causing more problems than they were expected to solve

The mongoose has gone from eating the snakes to chowing down on Yambarukuina birds, Okinawa national monuments, and now is deemed a problem for the entire ecology of the forests. The Ministry of Environment has been working the issue for years, with limited success, and has now turned to sniffer dogs to help track the elusive mongoose.

The Ministry and Okinawa Prefecture have jointly formed ‘Yambaru Mongoose Busters’ teams that in 2008 captured 565 mongoose. The teams have been operating in 18,000 locations in northern Okinawa’s forests, setting snares to capture the mongoose. If all goes as planned, the mongoose will be eradicated by 2014. The concerns are that there may not be enough snares, or that they’re placed in the wrong places, so the sniffer dogs have been brought into the process to determine why.

The sniffer dogs are already working at more than 100 locations, being given scent leads of mongoose fur and dung. Thus far, officials say, the sniffer dogs have been finding the right mongoose hiding spots based upon the scent information provided.

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