image source www.galapagos-ch.org
This Goat Friday takes us to the magnificent and mysterious Galápagos Islands.
Goats had been introduced to the Galápagos by whalers in the 18th Century. By the end of the 20th Century, the feral goat population on the main island of Isabela had grown to around 120 thousand, putting impossible pressure on unique native species such as the Galápagos tortoises.
Something had to be done – and done it was...
The private Charles Darwin Foundation, which set out to exterminate the goat in 1998, announced last July that it had succeeded completely. ...
It was a military-style campaign. With about $10 million in financing from the United Nations and private donors, the foundation imported 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 40 rifles and two helicopters. ...
The first wave of attack entailed rapid fire from helicopters with sharpshooters wielding .223-caliber semiautomatic rifles. ... The project ultimately averaged 1.4 bullets for every dead goat. “No army would ever dream of being that efficient,” says Karl Campbell, field director for the Isabela Project.
I’m thinking President George W Bush should give these folks a call to see if they could sort out some of his problems in Iraq.
But perhaps the most diabolically efficient aspect of the Isabela Project was the deployment of the Judas goats.
In the final stages, so-called Judas goats were fitted with radio transmitters to lead hunters to the last survivors. Chosen for sexual aggressiveness so they would search out partners, the Judas goats were sterilized to prevent them from procreating, and in some cases injected with hormones to keep up their sex drives. ...
Like I said – diabolical.
Yes, the goats are gone from the Galápagos; however, there remain nearly 300 invasive species infesting those enchanted isles “... from pigs to cats, dogs, rats, mice and 11 different kinds of cockroaches.”
These will be the subjects of future efforts to restore those islands as refugia for their native species. Hopefully those efforts will enjoy success similar to the goat operation.
Previous Goat Friday
Note: Image has been restored.