Federal fish and wildlife officials have withdrawn their plan to drop poison on the South Farallon Islands to kill mice, a spokeswoman for the California Coastal Commission said.
The plan was designed to rid the islands, which are outside the Golden Gate, of an invasive house mice population.
Eradicating the rodents was expected to “benefit native seabirds, amphibians, terrestrial invertebrates, plants and wilderness quality,” according to a report by commission staff.
The report also said killing the mice would restore at least part of the natural ecosystem on the islands, which are part of the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
The plan involved dropping more than a ton of poison grain pellets on the islands.
California Coastal Commission spokeswoman Noaki Schwartz said that commissioners raised multiple concerns about possible unintended consequences, and if the plan was unsuccessful the poison would have to be dropped again.
Schwartz said that fish and wildlife officials withdrew the plan to address the concerns that were raised and are going to resubmit their plan.
Commission chair Dayna Bochco agreed with the decision by federal officials.
She said, “We haven’t been convinced this is the best and only way to go.”
The commission was scheduled to hear comments about the plan from the public this month in San Luis Obispo. Comments submitted ahead of the meeting were very critical.
Kim Fitts, a wildlife biologist and environmental consultant, said, “Undoubtedly the poison will travel up the food chain; not only killing the intended mice, but also the entire predator/carnivore community living within the coastal zone. This is exactly how the food web is destroyed for generations.”
Following the decision, San Rafael-based Wildcare, a wildlife advocacy group, tweeted, “The battle isn’t over, but this was a win!”
The group said in its tweet that it helped convince the California Coastal Commission “to look more closely at the plan.”