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Stop the Farallon Island Poison Drop
"Native American beliefs include that all of nature is sacred and alive, has inherent right to exist, and is perpetuated in a sensitive, dynamic balance. If we intervene harshly and disrupt that balance, we risk its peril and ours."
Lou-Anne Fauteck Makes-Marks, M.F.A., M.A., Ph.D.
European, Asian, Coast Miwok, Kashia Pomo, Kamchadal/Aleut, Creek, Shawnee, Virginia/Maryland Algonquin, and Southeastern Sioux
The Farallon Islands are known as the Islands of The Dead, part of ancient pathways still tended by the Miwak, Oholone, and other First nations as sacred. In December 2021, the Coastal Commission will decide whether to approve a proposal by the USFWS to use helicopters to drop at least 1.5 tons of highly poisonous anti coagulant rodenticides on the Farallons, the same rodenticides banned by the State of CA earlier this year in part for the detrimental effects they have had on ecosystems. The intention is to kill non native house mice that are said to lure native owls to the islands that also prey on a (not yet endangered) native bird called the Ashy Storm Petrel. If the plan seems half hatched, it’s because that’s the truth. This highly mobile poison won’t only be consumed by the mice but will be eaten by other birds, raptors, and will get into the killing fish, turtles, and marine mammals. This plan would sicken an entire ocean ecosystem.
Video footage shows the deadly aftermath of a similar rodenticide drop on Lehua island near Kauai in Hawaii. During the 3 poison applications, 3 incidents of Pilot Whale beachings were observed. The rodenticide killed a lot more than just mice. After a similar poison drop on Wake Island in Guam, US Air Force scientists recommended a 3 year fishing ban after testing fish for brodifacum, the same rodenticide planned to be dropped on the Farallons. It is not yet well understood how this rodenticide impacts food webs especially in non lethal doses. At Wake Island, fish tested 3 years after the poison drop still contained residues. Because these types of rodenticide drops occur exclusively on islands there is little oversight and public visibility.
2 organizations, Island Conservation and Point Blue stand to make a lot of money from a sole source contract if this plan is approved. And they don’t plan to stop with the Farallon Islands. There are over 250 other islands off the Coast of California alone they plan on targeting with the same “urgent” plea to the USFWS for helicopter rodenticide drop.
The argument is that rodenticide drops are the way mice and rats have been eradicated from islands in the past, it’s true that poison drops are the oldest tried and true method. But just because this is the way it’s been done for a while doesn’t meant it’s the best. Gas vehicles are the most proven form of transportation but we know we need to switch to electric. Coal plants are the most proven way of producing electricity but we know we need to move to use more solar and wind. Dropping literally tons of rodenticides on islands has been the way rodents have been removed from islands in the past, but it doesn’t mean we should keep on doing it, especially off the coast of California.
In CA, our Coastal Commission has the final say whether largescale rodenticide applications are allowed on our offshore islands. They are accepting public comments right now via email and in person at their December meeting. It is crucial that people speak up in opposition to this plan if there is any chance of stopping it. There are much safer alternatives including contraceptive bait that could be used to remove the mice.
An environmental restoration paradigm that aims to restore a whole ecosystem by focusing on 1 species is fatally flawed.
"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."
- Chief Seattle, 1854
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