The U.S. Fish and Wildlife just approved a plan to drop 2,900 pounds of poison-laced bait on the wildlife-rich Farallon Islands sitting 30 miles west of San Francisco. The controversial plan is in response to the growing mouse population that has overrun the island, creating a mess for its rich biodiversity.
In the 1800â€™s, seal hunters would make the 27-mile boat trip west of San Francisco to the waters of the Farallon 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.
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.
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.
â€œThe only way to protect these species and allow the ecosystem to recover is 100 percent eradication of the mice,â€ Pete Warzibok, a seasoned biologist who has worked on the Farallon Islands, said to the Associated Press. â€œAnything else is simply a stopgap measure that will not adequately address the problem.â€
The plan to drop poison has been heavily planned and scrutinized for years now. After analyzing the risk-reward outcomes of the plan, it has officially been given the green light from the federal government to execute in 2021 and 2022. Officials plan to drop the poison when the bird populations is historically at its lowest, typically in the late-fall and winter months.
Should they kill the mice of the Farralon Islands?