West Coast
Monterey Herald

CA - Controversy grows over recipe for rodent problem on Farallon Islands: rat poison

Leon Panetta: ‘I don’t know if they would carpet bomb Yellowstone or Yosemite in order to deal with a mouse problem.’

Isolated from the frenzy of San Francisco by 30 miles of ocean, the Farallon Islands appear desolate from a distance — nothing more than a rocky silhouette against the setting sun. But up close, the islands are bursting with life. Petrels, gulls, cormorants, murres and tufted puffins are just a few of the species that make the Farallones the largest seabird colony in the contiguous United States, earning it the moniker “the Galapagos of California.”

But the federally protected islands are besieged by tiny furry invaders — house mice, about 60,000 of them. They were most likely introduced by sailors in the early 19th century who came here to harvest everything from blubber to pelts to seabird eggs.

Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a controversial plan to exterminate them. It wants to rid the South Farallon Islands of the mice by dropping from a helicopter nearly 1.5 tons of pellets laced with a potent and controversial rat poison called brodifacoum — enough to kill every last mouse.

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