Island Conservation Press Launch: Invasive Rodents No Longer Threaten Wildlife on Seymour Norte Island and Mosquera Islet

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Media contact: Emily Heber – emily.hub@islandconservation.org, 831-316-4047 Photos available

Two years after the implementation of the rodent eradication program on Seymour Norte and Mosquera, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Island Protection have determined that the islands are free of invasive rodents.

The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park of the Ministry of Environment and Water, together with the non-profit organization Island Conservation, has declared Seymour Norte Island and Mosquera Island to be free from invasive rodents. These safeguards have been implemented over the past two years with the intent of eradicating invasive vertebrates that are affecting native biodiversity and preserving the island’s ecosystems.

In January 2019, park rangers, Island Conservation employees and drone pilots from Envicto Technologies Ltd. breakthrough drone technology to eliminate the black rat (Rattus rattus) and Norwegian rat (Rattus norvegicus) from Seymour Norte and Mosquera. The drone was equipped with a litter bucket and followed GPS-controlled transects to distribute a conservation bait made by Bell Laboratories across the island and available rodent habitat. After the initial implementation, baits were placed in stations along the coast to ensure that rodents did not re-enter the island.

Danny Rueda, Director of the Galapagos National Park confirms:

After two years of waiting, we can declare that these islands are free from rodents. This project has produced the expected results as planned and according to the highest protocols for these cases. The Galapagos is once again a benchmark for the protection of this globally important ecosystem. The effects of this management activity were recorded by appropriate monitoring. “

Víctor Carrión, Ecuador Program Manager at Island Conservation, commented:

In cooperation with the team of experts from the Galapagos National Park Directorate, strict biosecurity measures have been implemented to prevent future reintroduction of invasive rodents and at the same time allow tourists to visit Seymour Norte and Mosquera safely. “

As a long-term preventive measure, a biosecurity barrier consisting of 289 bait stations will remain in place to prevent re-invasion of rodents from Santa Cruz or Baltra.

The islands of Seymour Norte and Mosquera can recover from invasive rodents; Endemic and native plants and animals will be able to fulfill their ecological roles and guarantee the hatching of nests and the survival of birds and reptiles, including Galapagos land iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and swallowtailed gulls (the only nocturnal seagull on the planet ). The restoration also helps protect the habitat of the lava gull, one of the rarest species of gull in the world classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This project was made possible by the support of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund, Silversea Cruises, Galapagos Biodiversity & Education for Sustainability Fund Ecoventura – Charles Darwin Foundation, Metropolitan Touring, Fondo Especies Invasoras Galapagos, Rapid Response Facility, Bell Labs, International Galápagos Tour Operators Association, individual donors who gave their support through the SOS North Seymour campaign, and other private and public donors.

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About the partners

The Galapagos National Park Directorate, established in 1959, covers 97% of the land surface of the Galapagos Islands, while the Galapagos Marine Reserve protects 138,000 km2 / 53,000 square miles of the surrounding ocean. The Galapagos National Park Directorate is responsible for maintaining the ecological integrity and biodiversity of the island and marine ecosystems. They also regulate the sustainable use of the natural resources of the Galapagos Islands by the community. The archipelago’s unique fauna and flora inspired Charles Darwin’s creation of species and is still a living laboratory of evolution to this day. In recognition of their global importance, the Galapagos Islands were declared a first UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Biosphere Reserve and most recently a Blue Park. Learn more at www.galapagos.gob.ec/en/

island conservation is a global, non-profit conservation organization that prevents extinction and restores islands. We work where the concentration of both biodiversity and extinction is greatest – on islands. Eliminating a primary threat – introduced invasive vertebrate animals – is one of the most important measures we can take to save threatened plants and animals. Native island species and ecosystems often recover without additional intervention, and when animals locally become extinct we put them back in. Island Conservation supports land managers and local communities in realizing their visions. To date, we have successfully restored 65 islands around the world, benefiting 1,195 populations of 487 species and subspecies. Learn more at www.islandconservation.org/

Additional Comments

Why Islands – Learn about islands as a conservation priority.

  • Islands are the epicenter of the extinction crisis as they are the sites of 75% of the extinctions of reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals.
  • Invasive vertebrate species are a leading cause of island extinction, contributing 86% of recorded extinctions.
  • More than 1,200 invasive mammals have been wiped out on islands around the world, with an average success rate of 85%

Further development of drone technology

  • Seymour Norte and Mosquera Islands were the first cases where a drone was used to eradicate invasive vertebrates from an island, which served as a proof-of-concept.
  • The technology was developed by Envico Technologies Ltd. (formerly Environment Conservation Technologies Ltd.) in collaboration with Island Conservation and other leading island conservation experts.
  • Based on the knowledge gained, Envico and its partners have made technological advances to increase the drone’s carrying capacity and longer flight times.
  • In 2021, projects on three archipelagos throughout the Pacific will be implemented with drones.
    • On the Tetiaroa Atoll, exterminations have been carried out on three islands by handheld transmitter in recent years. Island Conservation and Tetiaroa Society will conduct a drone-based operation on the remaining islands where a hand-based project is not possible.
    • Kamaka Island in the southeastern region of French Polynesia is being implemented using drones from BirdLife International, Island Conservation and SOP Manu, benefiting endangered seabirds (especially the critically endangered Polynesian petrel, Nesofregetta fuliginosa), endemic plants and the coastal marine ecosystem.

Information about the author

Island protection prevents extinction by removing invasive species from the islands. To date, we have successfully restored 64 islands worldwide, from which 1195 populations of 487 species and subspecies have benefited. Working with local communities, government agencies and conservation organizations, we select islands that have the greatest potential to prevent the extinction of endangered species around the world.

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Island protection

Island protection prevents extinction by removing invasive species from the islands. To date, we have successfully restored 64 islands worldwide, from which 1195 populations of 487 species and subspecies have benefited. Working with local communities, government agencies and conservation organizations, we select islands that have the greatest potential to prevent the extinction of endangered species around the world.

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