Drones are helping conservationists rid one Galapagos island of an infestation of rats threatening indigenous birds. The drones have dropped poison on more than half of North Seymour Island in a bid to kill off the invasive species. The island's rare birds nest on the ground and their numbers are being depleted by the rodent invasion. The drones work much faster and more cheaply than helicopters which have been used in similar rat eradication projects elsewhere. The infestation of brown and black rats was discovered in early 2018 and prompted action by NGO Island Conservation and the Galapagos' Ministry of the Environment to rid the territory of the pest.
I get the feeling you don't dislike rats enough. Because your struggles with the rodents chewing through your house pale in comparison to the problems wrought by rodents chewing through entire island ecosystems. Release just one pregnant rat on an island and soon enough the invasive predators will have decimated that pristine environment like an atom bomb. Sure, rats on their own are pretty neat, but we've got a nasty habit of transporting them where they don't belong, at which point they transform into menaces. Such is the plight of the Galapagos Island of Seymour Norte, a speck of 455 acres off the coast of Ecuador.
The Galapagos Island of Seymour Norte, off the coast of Ecuador, has a vicious invasive rat problem. Despite efforts to curb the spread of the rats in 2007, conservationists found the tiny island was infested yet again a decade later by two common rat species. This time, they employed a high-tech solution to fight the vermin: autonomous drones that fly along predetermined paths and drop bombs of rodent poison, Wired reports. Invasive rodents have decimated native species like iguanas and a number of birds by eating their eggs, and offspring. The government of Ecuador partnered with Island Conservation, an American non-profit, to devise a solution: six-rotor drones specially designed to drop an immense 44 pounds of rat poison pellets per trip.
A helicopter pelts Guam's trees with poison-baited dead mice to fight the voracious brown tree snake. A special boat with giant winglike nets stuns and catches Asian carp in the U.S. Midwest. In the fight against alien animals that invade and overrun native species, the weird and wired wins. "Critters are smart -- they survive," said biologist Rob "Goose" Gosnell, head of U.S. Department of Agriculture's wildlife services in Guam, where brown tree snakes have gobbled up nearly all the native birds. "Trying to outsmart them is hard to do." Invasive species are plants and animals that thrive in areas where they don't naturally live, usually brought there by humans, either accidentally or intentionally.
The Galapagos Islands are famous for exotic birds, tortoises, and iguanas, but recently the archipelago had become overrun with more prosaic animals: rats and mice. Rodents that came on old sailing ships. Rodents that stowed away on modern cruises. Wherever they came from, rodents that eat the eggs and chicks and hatchlings of the animals that so dazzled Charles Darwin. The same story plays out on islands all over the world.