SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – There’s a plan in the works to drop 1.5 tons of poison pellets on the Farallon Islands — A move aimed at eliminating a rodent invasion.
Critics are sounding off against the government proposal saying it puts many others species at risk, like seagulls, seals and even humans.
For hundreds of years, mice have called the Farallon Islands home and the invasion population of rodents there is now extreme.
A peak there are almost 60,000 of them.
“There’s so many mice, you can see, it looks like the ground is moving,” Alison Hermance, with WildCare, said.
The Farallon Islands sit 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco.
It is home to marine mammals, seabirds and native plants but the mice have caused ecological damage, according to scientists.
Which now after a decade of review, Fish and Wildlife Services wants to drop by helicopter almost 3,000 pounds of poison on the island to eradicate the mice saying it will help restore other native animal populations.
“There are ways to control rodent problems that do not involve poison,” Hermance said.
WildCare, a nature center and wildlife hospital, in San Rafael doesn’t disagree that the mice should go, it is how.
Methods it recommends: setting traps, removing the rodents food sources and relocating its main predator the burrowing owl.
Which, WildCare called the real culprit because it eats baby birds and eggs, when they can’t find mice.
“The problem is the owls that eat the mice dumping 1.5 metric tons of poison on the island to solve a problem of six to eight burrowing owls seems excessive,” Hermance said.
Fish and Wildlife Services says poison is the best approach because it is most effective.
“The only proving method in 100s of these rodent eradications cases around the world the use of rodenticide done safely effectively with minimal impact on the species you are not targeting,” Doug Cordell, with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said.
The Fish and Wildlife report said “it is unavoidable” that other species like seagulls, about 1,700 of them, would probably die after eating the poisoned rodents which is what critics of the poison plan are concerned about, the impact of other animals dying, the long-term impacts on water quality and the poison moving up the food chain.
This plan is not a done deal, there is still a hearing with the California Coastal Commission coming up this Wednesday.