Friday, April 17, 2009

Saving wildlife by killing it

The Anacapa effort is just one of a growing number of attempts to roll back the invasion of various types of mammals on the islands of the world: rats, this time from Campbell Island near New Zealand, as well as 160,000 goats from Isabella Island in the Galapagos through 2006, to name just a few. There have been 160 "eradications" of pigs, goats or sheep, 75 of feral cats, and 332 of rats and other rodents, according to Josh Donlan, director of Advanced Conservation Strategies, which carries out such efforts. "People usually start to get uncomfortable here," Donlan says. "This is pretty aggressive conservation." It started with ornithologist Ken Stager's visit to Clipperton Island in the Pacific in the late 1950s. He found a community of 55 feral pigs where he had hoped to find nesting grounds of masked and brown boobies. "Luckily, Ken Stager had a shotgun with him," Donlan says. He killed all the pigs and, by 2003, 150 masked boobies had grown to 112,000. "Today it's the largest and most important boobie nesting site in the Pacific.

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