War on Rats in Galapagos Looks to Exterminate 180 Million Rodents
Quito, Ecuador – Officials announced that today will launch the first wave in what is most certainly the “mother of all” rat infestations, reports Business Week.
The war on the rats will consist of dropping approximately 22 tons of rat poison designed to attract and kill off two types of non-native rats that were brought to the Island in the 19th century by foreign ships: the Norway and black rats.
Asked whether a large number of decomposing rats would create an environmental problem, Danny Rueda, director of conservation for the Galapagos National Park Service, said the poison was specially engineered with a strong anti-coagulant that will make the rats dry up and disintegrate in less than eight days, reports Sky News.
The Galapagos were declared protected as a Unesco Natural Heritage site in 1978. In 2007, Unesco declared them at risk due to harm from invasive species, tourism and immigration.
Their combine population growth has reached what experts believe to be 180 million on just the Pinzon Island and due to their appetite for eggs and hatchlings; they have placed a number of birds on the endangered species list and depleted the reptile population both by eating their eggs and the natural vegetation the native species would normally consume.
“It’s one of the worst problems the Galapagos have. (Rats) reproduce every three months and eat everything,” said Juan Carlos Gonzalez, a specialist with the Nature Conservancy involved in the Phase II eradication operation on Pinzon island and the islet of Plaza Sur.
If successful the plan will roll out to the other myriad of islands that form the Galapagos.
The operation is viewed as vital by both the government of Ecuador and conservationists.