Wildlife officials may soon dump rat poison on the Farallon Islands
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the poison would get rid of tens of thousands of house mice.
FARALLON ISLANDS, CALIFORNIA — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a plan to drop 1.5 tons of rodenticide via a helicopter twice over a three week period to eradicate invasive house mice from the South Farallon Islands.
The agency says the dead mice would then be removed by authorities and collected by hand.
Wildlife authorities plan to use fireworks, predator calls and air cannons to prevent seagulls from consuming the poison.
According to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the removal of house mice is expected to indirectly reduce predation by migratory burrowing owls, which prey on native species such as the ashy stormy-petrel.
The owls stay on the islands through the winter to consume mice. After the mouse population crashes, the owls start preying on storm-petrels.
House mice further harm the island's ecosystem by consuming native species such as the Farallon camel cricket and competing with the Farallon arboreal salamander for food.
Native vegetation on the islands is also threatened due to mouse predation, allowing invasive plant species such as the New Zealand spinach to thrive.
The agency said eliminating mice would likely increase survival rates of natives plants such as the maritime goldfield.
The Fish and Wildlife Service says using poison is the most efficient method to get rid of the mice.
Critics say that the rat poison may indirectly harm other animals that unknowingly consume the rodents, the Los Angeles Times reports.
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