Scrap Plan to Drop Poison on California Islands

Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Scrap plan to drop poison on California’s South Farallon Islands

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a plan to drop poison from a helicopter over the South Farallon Islands off the coast of California to kill rodents. They claim that this mass poisoning is necessary to stop owls from coming to the islands, since they are apparently being drawn by the large rodent population. They want to protect Black Storm Petrel birds, which live on these islands in great numbers, from the owls.

However, eradicating rodents will not keep owls away from the birds. Owls are predatory birds, who consider Storm Petrel birds a meal, regardless of rodent activity. This management strategy is horribly flawed, since not only will it not have the intended results, it can also cause the death of the very birds they want to protect, as well as other animals. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency banned brodifacoum and other rodenticides for consumer use because of their extreme toxicity to wildlife. Poisons cause immense suffering. The victims experience convulsions, vomiting, internal bleeding, gradual cardiac collapse, and a variety of other reactions that result in horrific pain and a slow, agonizing death that can take days.

The birds breed colonially on islands off the southern California coast of the United States, off the Baja Peninsula, and Sea of Cortez of Mexico. Storm Petrel’s nesting sites are usually in rock crevices, occasionally in small burrows in soft earth. They also use unused burrows from auklets. The colonies are attended nocturnally in order to avoid predatory birds such as gulls, Peregrine Falcons, and owls. The Black Storm Petrel is one of the few species of Storm Petrels that are not protected.

This management plan is very flawed, and needs great reconsideration. Urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to scrap their current plan and start again from scratch.


Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

Please reconsider your rodent eradication plan on the South Farallon Islands. Poisoning the rodents will not keep owls away, as the birds you are trying to protect are prey for owls. Poisoning will only hurt the Storm Petrel, since poison often has unintended victims. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency banned brodifacoum and other rodenticides for consumer use because of their extreme toxicity to wildlife.

Poison is a terrible way to die. The victim is in terrible pain. Poison is also lethal to animals who eat a poisoned animal that is dying. With this management plan, you will end up with many more dead animals than just dead rats. Please reconsider your plan to poison the rats on the South Farallon Islands.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Nanda Ramesh via Wikimedia Commons

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