The unique bird and reptile species that make the Galapagos Islands a treasure for scientists and tourists must be preserved — that means hundreds of millions of rats must die.
A helicopter will begin dropping 22 tons of specialty designed poison bait on an island Thursday, which launches the second phase of a campaign to clear out non-native rodents by 2020 from the archipelago that helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The invasive Norway and black rats, introduced by whalers and buccaneers beginning in the 17th century, feed on the eggs and hatchlings of the islands’ native species, which include giant tortoises, lava lizards, snakes, hawks and iguanas. Rats have also depleted plants on which native species feed.
The rats have critically endangered bird species on the 19-island cluster 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from Ecuador’s coast.
“It’s one of the worst problems the Galapagos have,” 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. “Rats reproduce every three months and eat everything.”
Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2012/11/15/galapagos-islands-rats-targeted-death-save-birds/#ixzz2CUCGzBIz