Save the Seabirds of Farallon Islands by calling the Coastal Commission on Dec 16, 2021

  • Posted on 10 December 2021
  • By Everette Phillips

The Holiday Season is the wrong time to decide whether to drop poison on the Farallon Islands and kill thousands of birds in order to kill rodents. The item is on the calendar because many people are distracted by a new freedom from COVID19 restrictions combined with excitement about reuniting physically with friends and relatives in the Holiday spirit.  These distractions result in lower attendance and help some items get on the agenda with less scrutiny than during other times of the year.

In August 2020, the Sierra Club in San Francisco Bay wrote a letter to the Coastal Commission asking that the use of fertility control be used rather than using rodenticides.

If you do not know about the Farallon Islands off the coast of California, you can read more about them here.

I have not seen a new position by the Sierra Club on poisoning the wildlife on the islands. There has not been enough time to review and comment on the new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Beyond Pesticides has been active on the topic and maybe your personal opinion is aligned with theirs. Here is what they say about the matter:

Aerial application of brodifacoum places at risk the mammalian and avian wildlife on the Farallon Islands, as well as marine life that may be exposed when the poison washes or settles into the ocean. There is no way to limit the impact to the targeted house mouse. A 2015 study conducted after aerial drop of rodenticides on Palmyra Island off the coast of Hawaii reported: “We documented brodifacoum [rodenticide] residues in soil, water, and biota, and documented mortality of nontarget organisms. Some bait (14–19% of the target application rate) entered the marine environment to distances 7 m from the shore. After the application commenced, carcasses of 84 animals representing 15 species of birds, fish, reptiles and invertebrates were collected opportunistically as potential nontarget mortalities. In addition, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates were systematically collected for residue analysis. Brodifacoum residues were detected in most (84.3%) of the animal samples analyzed. Although detection of residues in samples was anticipated, the extent and concentrations in many parts of the food web were greater than expected.”

Home to rare, endemic seabirds such as the ashy storm-petrel, the Farallon Islands certainly have a serious mouse problem – 59,000 rodents occupy the rocky islands. Mice compete with native species for resources and attract an average of six burrowing owls a year. Owls prey upon ashy storm-petrels when mouse populations drop during the winter, killing hundreds of petrels annually. The global population of the ashy storm-petrel is small (10,000 – 20,000), but it is not considered an endangered species.

As important as native ecosystems are, the application of a poison is a toxic, simplified solution to a complex problem that requires the wisdom of nature herself, as species evolve and adapt to new conditions. The SEIS should investigate the possibility of controlling the mice through controlled intensified predation by providing nesting boxes for barn owls and/or kestrels.

Friday, December 10th was the last day to send a written comment, and I do not know if the special email will continue to function, but you can try to email

However, you can still request to speak at the Coastal Commission hearing by sending your request before 5pm on December 15th, 2021.  You make your request through this Coastal Commission web page.   USE THESE PROMPTS:

  • You will be speaking on a specific agendized item.
  • From the dropdown menu on the next page, choose the item "Th11b".

 the next box, choose "9. I am an interested member of the public".

  • Unless you are speaking with more than one person on your device, choose "no" regarding speaking with a group.
  • You may not state a Sierra Club position, unless you read that one comes out before December 15th. You must be clear that you are speaking as a resident of California, but you can mention that you belong to the Sierra Club among your many interests in environmental issues.

Online government meetings are an outcome of COVID19. Commissioners get to attend the meeting from the comfort of their home or office and simply look at a Zoom screen. This creates disassociation from the public. They do not see an audience of hundreds holding signs of protest. Calling into the meeting is one of the few tools to help the commission members get a true feeling of public opinion. Commissioners know that it takes time to watch the meeting and to call for 30 seconds to explress how you feel. You can express your feelings related to enforcing the Coastal Act through the least destructive means available if you are so inclined.

Thank you and Good Luck!





Blog Category: 

Add new comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.