The delicate ecosystem on the island of Guam is under attack by the brown snake, an invasive species endemic to parts of Indonesia and Australia. The snakes are killing off native flora and fauna, finding their way into residents’ homes, and potentially spreading their population outside the island by smuggling onto planes and suitcases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has an effective solution to the brown snake infestation - small white and brown dogs known as Jack Russell Terriers. As a breed of Terrier, these dogs have an innate ability to track and hunt creatures such as the brown snake and they’re being put to good use searching cargo before it leaves the island.

The Jack Russells sniff each load of household items or cargo in Defense Department aircraft and vehicles and alert their handler to any snake they may find. Last year alone, dog-handler teams and thousands of traps caught over 8,000 brown snakes.

According to Marc Hall, a USDA canine program manager, "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.”

Thanks to the 17 Jack Russell Terrier teams, thousands have already been caught and continue to be found by the dogs’ hardworking noses, saving the lives of countless birds and animals on Guam.

All the dogs were adopted at shelters near the National Detector Dog Training Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

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