Your comments on this fall’s proposed helicopter dispersal of 1.5 tons of rat poison pellets in the middle of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are now being solicited by the California Coastal Commission. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is pushing our Coastal Commissioners to approve a proposed aerial “poison drop” as consistent with California’s Coastal Plan, so the Coastal Commission will be conducting a public hearing in San Luis Obispo on July 10, 2019 starting at 9 am at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 333 Madonna Road, to help them reach a decision.
The poison drop proposal was abandoned by the Obama Administration in 2013 as being too risky to our National Marine Sanctuary and an unacceptable threat to adjacent fragile coastal ecosystems, while also posing unnecessary danger to non-target species, but the poison plan has recently been revived by a new crop of federal officials. The US Fish and Wildlife Service now asserts that small burrowing owls that migrate out from the mainland Marin shoreline pose the biggest threat to Ashy Storm Petrels, a seabird that frequents the Farallon Islands, but the Wildlife Service has also declined petitions to list Ashy Storm Petrels under the Endangered Species Act by noting that the bird’s population is up and on the increase. The Fish and Wildlife Service is also claiming that not one single poison pellet will reach the water and that killing each and every single one of the islands’ house mice – introduced by accident during the Gold Rush – represents the only way to discourage the small number of burrowing owls (six to eight) that seasonally feed on the mice from being attracted from the nearby mainland.
The controversial second-generation anticoagulant poisons being proposed for use in the Sanctuary are the subject of increased scientific scrutiny and public concern because of their association with unnecessary killing of non-target wildlife during similar air drops on island locations elsewhere. The State of California has outlawed retail sale of the same toxic compounds due to the unintended damage these chemicals inflict on eagles, hawks, mountain lions, foxes, bobcats, an iconic mammal called the Pacific Fisher, and in terrestrial urban interface locations, their dangers to domestic pets and small children. Legislation limiting the use of these poisons on state land is now moving through the California State Legislature. Some within the Wildlife Service admit that large numbers of gulls ingesting the poison pellets offshore during a helicopter drop this fall can be expected to return to die in mainland locations they frequent, such as at Fishermen’s Wharf. Any accidental wind- or wave-borne discharges of the poison into the ocean pose a contamination hazard to fish, crabs, and abalone, putting the fishing industry and our local economies at risk.
There are less dangerous and more species-specific ways to get rid of the mice on the Farallones, with non-toxic contraceptive baits now being licensed by the EPA, with none of the threats of biomagnification and the wholesale killing of non-target species posed by the current US Fish and Wildlife Service poisoning scheme.
Time is of the essence in commenting on this proposal, so please, act now….
Here you will find an appropriate draft of a letter to the Coastal Commissioners about this proposed poisoning, which you can easily customize with your own message and send to the Commissioners with one click.