Inside the Controversial Plan to Kill Thousands of Mice on the Farralon Islands

Farralon Islands

In the 1800’s, seal hunters would make the 27-mile boat trip west of San Francisco to the waters of the Farralon Islands. When they landed on the group of islands, known to be surrounded by shark infested waters, stowaway mice would jump ship and breed on the island.

Now, the island is overrun with tens of thousands of the mice, making it the highest density of rodents on the planet. The mice are destroying the unique ecosystem of the Farralones and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has drawn up a controversial plan to rid the island of the species forever.

Officials have concocted a plan to dump 1.5 tons of rodenticide on the islands in hopes that every last mouse will be eradicated. Although the rodenticide may kill other species, including some seabirds, Fish and Wildlife officials believe this is the only way to preserve the ecosystem for the future.

Flickr/Images by John ‘K’

The mice are decimating the local salamander populations by eating the insects, as well as spreading invasive species on their fur around the island. On top of the direct impact, the mice are also attracting owls to the island, who then start preying on the large population of Ashy storm petrel, a seabird in which half of its global population resides on the islands.

In short, the mice bring many problems that are changing the islands ecosystem forever.

“The only way to protect these species and allow the ecosystem to recover is 100 percent eradication of the mice,” Pete Warzibok, a seasoned biologist who has worked on the Farallon Islands, said to the Associated Press. “Anything else is simply a stopgap measure that will not adequately address the problem.”

With intense pushback from the public, Fish and Wildlife officials have put the project on a brief hold, but maintain it’s the best option to preserve the island. They plan to resubmit a new, similar plan soon.

Should they kill the mice of the Farralon Islands?

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