Report Title:

Plant and Non-Domestic Animal Quarantine


Authorizes the department of agriculture to inspect, reject, treat, send out of State, or destroy as appropriate any items imported into the State originating from Guam that have not been documented as having been inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services or other approved agencies and found to be apparently free of brown tree snakes prior to departure from Guam. (SB2477 HD1)


S.B. NO.



S.D. 1


H.D. 1







SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the brown tree snake (BTS) has caused significant adverse effects on the health and well-being of Guam’s residents, visitors, and economy and has decimated the territory’s native bird species.

The legislature finds that BTS was accidentally introduced to Guam via military transport after World War II and has created significant health and safety risks as well as economic, social, and ecological costs to the island and its residents. Current BTS populations on Guam are estimated to be as high as ten thousand snakes per square mile in some forested areas. BTS are adept climbers, and their ability to climb on utility poles and wires causes frequent power failures on Guam, resulting in health and safety threats that inevitably occur during power interruptions, as well as millions of dollars in cost due to damaged equipment, repair costs, lost productivity, and lost income in the visitor and other industries on the island.

BTS are opportunistic feeders that consume a highly varied diet and can survive in close proximity to human development. The mildly venomous snake frequently enters homes, where it has been documented to bite sleeping children, often resulting in their hospitalization. On average, fifty people on Guam are bitten by BTS each year, most of whom require medical treatment. BTS are also agricultural pests that prey on poultry and other small, domesticated animals. Due to snake predation, only three out of twelve species of Guam’s native forest birds currently survive in the wild, with one of these close to extinction due to BTS.

BTS often seek refuge from heat and light during the daytime hours, and occasionally crawl into warehouse facilities, cargo, shipping containers, transport vessels, and aircraft. They can climb and crawl into very small spaces and can be difficult to detect without thorough inspection or a pre-established program that helps to prevent or otherwise barricade access by snakes. They are particularly robust and able to endure harsh conditions for long periods, making them well-suited to enter Hawaii by stowing away in wheel-wells of airplanes or in shipboard cargo. These characteristics, coupled with Guam’s position as a focal point for commercial and military shipments of cargo and passengers to Hawaii, present a significant threat for snake dispersal to Hawaii. BTS originating from Guam have been documented on many Pacific islands, including Hawaii ports, where seven BTS have been intercepted since 1981.

If the BTS were to become established in Hawaii, the anticipated losses to our State would be similar in nature to Guam, though exponentially greater given our geographic size and population, and the extremely fragile nature of Hawaii's native species.

Similarly to Guam, Hawaii’s climate would provide an ideal environment for BTS to thrive in urban, suburban, and wildland settings. The establishment of BTS populations in Hawaii would likely result in health and safety threats, as well as economic, social, and ecological consequences similar to those observed on Guam. In addition, BTS populations in Hawaii would serve as source populations for future BTS dispersal to other locations where they could thrive, such as the southern United States.

Annual costs associated with BTS arrival and establishment in Hawaii have been estimated at a minimum of $29,000,000, to a maximum of $405,000,000. Of particular concern is the cost from damage to reliable electrical power generation and distribution.

When BTS simultaneously touch live and grounded conductors, they create faults, short circuits, and electrical damages. On Guam, this has resulted in frequent power failures, brownouts, island-wide blackouts, and electrical surges that damage electrical equipment and appliances, and interrupt all activities dependent on electrical power, including air and ground transportation, medical services, commerce, and banking.

In 1996, a single eight-hour power outage on Oahu caused an estimated $13,000,000 in damages and lost productivity. Between 1978 and 1997, snakes caused more than one thousand six hundred power outages in Guam. Outages of this frequency (more than six per month) in Hawaii could cost up to $112,000,000 in damages each year. If outages were less frequent, or only one outage per month for example, damages would be close to $15,000,000 each year.

The risk for those whose lives or health depend on a continuous flow of electric power cannot be understated, not to mention the safety concerns relating to uninterrupted power to roadway and airport runway lighting systems, hospitals, and police stations. Electricity is clearly essential to every aspect of life and commerce in Hawaii. The State’s economy, businesses, and residents rely on electricity not only for routine day-to-day activities but also the informational and digital technologies that demand a heightened level of power consistency and quality.

While recurring electrical power interruptions clearly have significant health, safety, and economic costs, the health threat from BTS bites, especially to young children; the damage to the State’s agricultural sector; and the nearly-assured destruction of Hawaii’s fragile native bird populations also pose significant risks in their own right. The vulnerability of Hawaii to BTS establishment and subsequent damage are significant, and efforts aimed at the prevention of snake dispersal from Guam provide significant and long-term cost benefits to the State of Hawaii.

Therefore, it is in the best interest of the State to take all reasonable and appropriate precautions to ensure that BTS does not become established in Hawaii.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services of the United States Department of Agriculture currently provides educational and inspection services to the government and private sectors on Guam to assist shippers and travelers in preventing the spread of the brown tree snake. However, participation in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services' programs is largely voluntary.

The purpose of this Act is to encourage individuals and entities on Guam that wish to send any goods or other articles to Hawaii to participate in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services' programs and other approved programs, or risk having their shipments disallowed entry into the State.

SECTION 2. Chapter 150A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"§150A-   Items and containers from Guam. In addition to any other authority provided by law, the department may inspect, reject, treat, send out of State, or destroy as appropriate any item imported into the State, including any box, vehicle, baggage, or container in which the item may have been transported or any packing material used in connection therewith that originated from Guam and has not been documented as having been inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services or other approved agency and found to be apparently free of brown tree snakes prior to departure from Guam."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.