Farallon Islands Restoration Update
July 12, 2019
As we wrote on our blog last week, Point Blue is proud to have contributed original science to support the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to eradicate invasive house mice from the Farallon Islands. On Wednesday of this week, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) considered the proposed eradication as an agenda item at its meeting in San Luis Obispo. The purpose of the discussion was to evaluate whether the proposed eradication was “consistent” with the California Coastal Act, which the CCC is charged with upholding.
During the discussion, Commissioners asked a number of questions about the implementation of the plan, some concerning details that are not usually identified until later in the process when an Operational Plan is created. Citizens also voiced concerns about the use of rodenticide. In order to allow for more time to address both commissioner questions and citizen concerns, the USFWS withdrew its proposal before the item went to a vote.
Point Blue is aware of the concerns that some individuals and groups have about the proposal and heard many of them on Wednesday. While we feel that these concerns were all addressed at length in the Final Environmental Impact Statement that the FWS produced (available here and excerpted in the CCC staff report here), we will pursue additional research as appropriate to support the Service at it revises the proposal.
We remain a supporter of the restoration project and strongly believe that our science makes a compelling and urgent case for the safe eradication of house mice. We believe this eradication needs to be carried out as soon as possible to protect threatened species on the island and the ecosystem on a whole. As biologists who have been living on and studying the islands for more than 50 years, we care deeply about the islands’ wildlife. We would never support a plan unless we were confident that our science showed it was in the best interests of the birds, salamanders, crickets, and vegetation that is threatened by the presence of the invasive mice.
We appreciate the Commission taking time to discuss the issue and, as appropriate, will work with the Fish and Wildlife Service as it considers next steps.