Update March 26, 2013
WildCare's Wildlife Solutions Manager spoke with Gary McChesney, US Fish &Wildlife’s Refuge Manager for the Farallon Islands.
Mr. McChesney said that although the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was due last fall, it has been delayed. They expect to see it this spring, and WildCare will be one of the first people to know the results.
We'll keep you updated!
On April 26, 2011, the United States Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a document stating that they are preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the "South Farallon Islands Non Native Mouse Eradication Project."
The proposal is to air-drop pounds of toxic rodenticide pellets on the Farallon Islands to eradicate the non-native mice reported to endanger other species.
WildCare strongly opposes this action!
Interest in this issue has been revived as USFWS prepares to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), due for completion in spring of 2012.
Recent articles in the Marin Independent Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle outline the issues facing the islands. WildCare is vocally outspoken against the use of rodenticides to eliminate the mice and we continue to monitor the situation.
The Comment Period for the initial stages of the Environmental Impact Report for this proposal closed on Friday, June 10, 2011. WildCare received over 2,700 signatures and comments on our petition, all of which were hand-delivered to Fish and Wildlife at the end of the business day on Friday.
From here, all submitted comments will be assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Report. WildCare will follow the progress closely and keep everyone informed as to next steps to prevent the use of rodenticides to solve the mouse problem on the Farallon Islands.
WildCare's Director of Wildlife Advocacy and other staff and volunteers attended the Public Scoping Meeting on this issue held on Thursday, May 12, 2011.
Results from the meeting were inconclusive. Local Fish and Wildlife representatives started the evening by announcing that the method for eliminating the mice and even the project itself was still in the most preliminary stages.
If it is decided that they will go ahead with the Non-native Mouse Eradication Project, representatives reiterated several times that the use of Brodifacoum is only one of the options they will consider.
The meeting was a first step in creating a Environmental Impact Report for the project.
The public comment period for this issue has been extended to June 10, 2011, so please sign WildCare's petition and add your voice and comments to WildCare's stand on this issue!
Read the San Francisco Chronicle article about the meeting.
Read WildCare Director of Wildlife Advocacy Maggie Sergio's posting on the Huffington Post.
"Protect and Restore?"
The Project (quoting the scoping document from USFWS) proposes to "help protect and restore the ecosystem of the South Farallon Islands, particularly seabirds and other native biological resources, by eradicating non-native house mice (Mus musculus) and preventing their future reintroduction."
To this end, the Service proposes three action alternatives which they say "will provide a high likelihood of success based on similar projects elsewhere while minimizing incidental impacts to other resources."
||Alternative A: No action
||Alternative B: Aerial broadcast of the rodenticide “Brodifacoum-25 Conservation” as the primary technique
||Alternative C: Phased aerial broadcast of "Brodifacoum-25 Conservation" as the primary technique. In this alternative, different islands would be treated at different times ranging from days to weeks apart.
The Only Alternatives?
WildCare does not believe these are the only options open to the USFWS to control rodent populations on the Farallon Islands, and the problems with these "action alternatives" are manifold:
1. The Farallon Islands are an incredibly isolated and sensitive environment. Anything that happens on any of them will affect everything on the island(s) and in/throughout nearby waters
2. Brodifacoum is toxic to birds, mammals and aquatic life (this is according to the product label, read it here) and is an extremely dangerous and persistent environmental poison.
In fact, the EPA is moving to ban the sale of rodenticides containing brodifacoum to consumers because of its toxity and the dangers to non-target wildlife.
3. Non-target predator animals will consume the rodents that have eaten the pellets and be poisoned too. A population of Burrowing Owls is at particular risk. These owls are listed as a Species of Special Concern.
The document "Rat Island Rat Eradication Project: A Critical Evaluation of Nontarget Mortality" (click to read the PDF) outlines the unintended consequences of this type of eradication project. Quoting from the document:
Some nontarget mortality was expected, but the actual mortality exceeded the predicted mortality. Forty six Bald Eagles died (exceeding the known population of 22 Bald Eagles on the island); toxicological analysis revealed lethal levels of brodifacoum in 12 of the sixteen carcasses tested.
2. Non-target species will consume the pellets. The document "Critical Evaluation of Nontarget Mortality" further demonstrates that, while most poisoning of non-target animals resulted from predation upon bait-poisoned rodents, gulls and other animals were found to have also consumed the pellets and to have died from primary poisoning from Brodifacoum.
4. Rodenticide dispersal WON'T WORK! There is no way to ensure complete eradication of the targeted mice. Only a few breeding pairs would be required to repopulate the islands. The scoping document says this plan will also prevent the rodents' reintroduction... how is that possible?
About "Brodifacoum-25 Conservation"
In WildCare's Wildlife Hospital, dozens of animals each year die from pesticide poisoning. Our current initiative to test every predator animal admitted to the hospital for rodenticide levels will likely show varying levels of rodenticide residue in hundreds more patients. Read more about WildCare's work to combat rodenticides here.
The majority of poisoned patients, however, are not the targeted pests like rodents; they are instead the predators that eat the poisoned rodents. This is called secondary poisoning, and is a harsh reality of pest eradication programs such as this one.
USFWS claims the "conservation" variety of the second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticide Brodifacoum is less harmful to non-target species (i.e. every animal on the islands other than the mice). WildCare's experience and information show this to be untrue-- Brodifacoum is one of the most toxic, dangerous and persistent rodenticides available, and the amount of active ingredient in the "Conservation" variety differs only slightly from that in the full-strength product.
Click to read the actual safety label information from the product in question.
Arguments in favor of this proposal overwhelmingly focus on the necessity to protect the many endangered and threatened species that live and breed on the Farallones. It is WildCare's position that, if control of House Mouse populations is necessary, responsible, non-toxic and environmentally sustainable approaches must be used.
The aerial broadcasting of toxic rodenticide pellets over the entire landmass of the Farallon Islands does not fit this criteria and should not even be considered in the eradication proposal.
How You Can Help
Join or stay on WildCare's email list to learn more about the progress of the proposal. We'll let you know next steps to prevent the proposal from becoming reality.
Spread the word! Link to this page on Facebook and share the information with friends! We cannot allow this highly irresponsible approach to nuisance wildlife control move forward!