Widely recognized as the most important sea bird habitat on Earth, Gough Island is a geographically perfect place for the animals to raise their young. It is one of the most remote places in the South Atlantic, nearly 2000 miles from both Africa and South America and 220 miles from the next nearest island in its archipelago. It is this isolation which has allowed its ecosystem to remain a nearly perfect home for the 22 bird species that seek its shelter in order to breed. But it is not wholly unspoilt: sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century when whalers came ashore, a few tiny house mice scurried off the ships and made Gough Island their home.
You wouldn't think a house mouse would be any trouble on an island in the middle of the ocean, and you might be right in that assumption. But you also wouldn't have expected the mouse to evolve so quickly as to have grown to two to three times its usual size and to have developed a taste for bird chicks. That's exactly what has happened on Gough Island—the same absence of predators that has allowed sea birds to thrive unharmed has allowed the giant mouse population to balloon to nearly three quarters of a million.
The mice attack at night, gnawing through nests and straight into the living chicks, who are essentially helpless mounds of fat. Their parents are equally unable to fight them off, having no biological experience with predators. The mice (now thought to the largest species of mouse anywhere) if left unchecked, are poised to bring several of these most rare bird species to extinction.
The only current plan to attempt an eradication involves dropping thousands of tons of rat poison from the air in the hopes that the mice will take the bait and retreat to their nests to die. New Zealand has had success controlling rodent populations this way on several of its islands.
Via The Guardian
I didnt know it was our job to babysit every specie that cant survive on its own. The birds that can protect their young are the birds that deserve to have kids, just like all the other species.
I understand why you would save some species of bird by putting them in a zoo (especially if they have no defenses against predators), but I dont understand killing a bunch of rodents on an island so some defenseless birds can live.
The only time species should be protected in my opinion is if they are being affected by humans, like deer, fish, and other hunted or animals highly affected by humans.
To be fair, we did affect them by bringing a new species to their island and that one event has effected the island in a huge way, so it is our fault.
If we imported them there... figure out a decent way, poison seems rather retarded, to take care of the problem we caused.
It seems like conjecture to say 'sometime in the 19th century'... did the mice stow away in the landing craft? Personally, I can't see two or more mice, or even one pregnant female, secretly hiding on a row boat, then jumping ship when it lands on the beach...
And I'm almost certain no one on those boats saw the mice running for the hills across the sands....
Humans should be held responsible for messes they create. These birds have no defenses against predators because they had adapted (over a period starting much earlier than the 19th century) to the habitat that was Gough Island – an island that was previously uninhabited by mice.
Look at pretty much any invasive species – and its effect on the surrounding wildlife – it is in almost every situation devastating to the original inhabitants. And in almost every case – it was the fault of the humans for introducing it there (I don’t think mice were able to swim 2000 miles to a tiny island). Ships of the old days were INFESTED with mice – along with their ballasts full of fish and muscle species from their original port – these mice could have easily gotten off the ships when docked via ropes, ramps, cargo, etc.
Sucks for the birds that humans must make their mark everywhere.
Has anyone thought of bringing a few cats? The size of the mouse population would dictate how many cats you'd end up with.
That is, of course, unless sanitation is not under control in the human population (i.e., are they wealthy/clean enough to dispose of their trash so that the cats go after the mice instead of last week's spaghetti).
Not that I place a whole lot of stock in this notion that it's "man's fault"--if we go for that absurd nonsense, we won't go anywhere else.
cats eat birds...
people think I am strang, But I am not I am just not typical.
new to the site lets try this again.
Instead of dropping poison perhaps they should try a rodent contraceptive to control the population.
"I didnt know it was our job to babysit every specie that cant survive on its own. The birds that can protect their young are the birds that deserve to have kids, just like all the other species."
If you don't know anything about ecology, don't comment. The destruction of this ecosystem will have wider consequences down the road, as everything within earth's biosphere is interconnected. Maybe we shouldn't "babysit" the earth so that our species can continue to survive the threat of global warming. At least if we apply crash's lazy sit back-and-do-nothing suggestion on a global scale, the stupid people will be wiped out too.
So at what size do these mice become considered rats? haha
anyway, did they really evolve? or are they expressing more of their dna's latent potential for size now that they are working for their food instead of free loading off us humans? is it lack of preditors over the generations making them so big? or is it because they are eating the chicks which at the point they are being eaiten may be rich in nutients and unexpressed stemcell rich biomatter that may encourage better health and size for these fury beasts? do I have no Idea what I'm talking about? and lastly if they did actually evolve to be bigger so quickly simply because of a lack of preditors present then what does that say about the theory of natural selection playing such a large roll in evolution?
There is a difference between rats and mice, and they are getting a lot of protein in their diet because of the makeup of the chicks' bodies. The chicks' need lots of protein and other nutrients, so they have a lot of that in them. The mice feed off of that and grow larger. Natural selection has not reared its head because it has been an extremely short amount of time compared to the other selections. It works over thousands of years, not hundreds.
Two or three predators which feed off of each other should be used to keep one another in check. For example, hyenas and lions fight and kill each other. Two or three hawk species compete against each other. Two or three owl species compete against each other. The owls leave the birds alone, because they are too big, but mice are a perfect size prey.
If one is going to introduce minor predators such as hawks and owls, one also needs to introduce the major predators such as wolves, lions, bears and cougers. One needs the major herbivores such as deer, caribou and moose.
In all seriousness, you should grab a bunch of birds and release them in Malaysia before its too late.