The Galapagos Islands are the model of biodiversity which inspired Charles Darwin to surmise the theory of evolution, but scientists have made arrangements to ensure that the latest round of animal deaths come about as the result of something quite different than natural selection. In hopes of staving off the islands' unwelcome rats, an invasive species first introduced by explorers like Darwin, modern-day biologists have recently implemented a plan to poison them -- by dropping thousands of toxic treats on them from helicopters.
According to a report from The Telegraph, poison-laced 'cookies' were scattered over the remote Pacific islands by aircraft aimed at reducing or eliminating the presence of non-native rodents which pose a threat to dozens of bird and other species unique to the Galapagos. The poisonous bait is said to be designed specifically to attract rats while repelling the island's native wildlife.
"This project is the first of its kind in South America, and a significant step in the ongoing program to protect the native species of the Galapagos," says Galapagos national park coordinator, Victor Carrion.
The Telegraph offers details on what will be an ongoing effort to rid the islands of unwelcome pests:
Scientists will continue to monitor the islands for two years before declaring them free of unwanted rodents but plans are already afoot to roll out the programme across larger islands in the archipelago.
Preparations are underway to remove black rats from Pinzon Island, where they have stopped the Galapagos giant tortoise from breeding in the wild for more than a century by eating eggs and hatchlings.
Fortunately for the islands' precious natural wildlife, early indications suggest that the operation is going 'extremely well'. Let's just hope that, in our attempts to rectify our mistake of bringing rats to the Galapagos in the first place, we don't create an additional set of problems.
Helicopters? Poison-laced cookies? What could go wrong?
More on the Galapagos Islands
Which Has More Species, the Galapagos Islands or Antarctica?
Weird and Wonderful Galapagos Wildlife Worth Saving (Slideshow)
Galapagos Islands Moved Off Endangered Sites List