Ecuador Wages Poison War on Galapagos Rats

Conservationists have stepped up their war against alien rats in the Galápagos. Officials with Ecuador's Galápagos National Park announced Monday they and conservationists from various nonprofit organizations had begun carpet bombing the archipelago's smaller islands with rat poison systematically released from a helicopter. Rats first arrived as stowaways in Western sailing ships and are a problem because they eat native tortoise and bird eggs. While conservationists have been killing rats for years, using bait and traps, the new strategy aims for "100% eradication" from nine islands and islets, including Jervis and Beagle islands, the officials announced in a statement. To protect a native bird that might otherwise eat the poisoned rats, conservationists captured 20 Galápagos hawks and plan to keep them in captivity for 2 months. They said that "mitigation steps will be taken" to protect the sole endemic rodent, a mouse found on Santiago Island.