Galapagos Embarked on Rat Eradication Millions to Die

B. McPherson
Rat eradication program is underway in the Galapagos Islands

The government of Ecuador and conservation groups have embarked on a rat eradication program on the sensitive islands. Since Europeans began landing there in the 17th century the rat population has grown unchecked. Both the black rat (Ratus ratus) and the Norway rat are present. It is estimated that there are now 10 rats for every square metre of land.

The operation currently underway on the island of Pinzon is estimated to kill 180 million rats. Nearly 22 tonnes of rat poison are being dumped for the rat banquet. As a precaution, to prevent hawks and iguanas from eating the dead rodents, they have been temporarily captured.

While the killing of any animals is against most conservation efforts, the rats eat the eggs of birds and reptiles. On Pinzon, no tortoise has hatched for a century due to their predation. Eight small islands and islets have been cleared of rats since the program was begun in 1983.

Other invasive animals are also targeted as they disrupt the native plants and animals.

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