Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Coastal Commission Sets July 10 Public Hearing on “Poison Drop” in Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Coastal Commission Sets July 10 Public Hearing on
“Poison Drop” in Farallones National Marine Sanctuary This Fall

(San Francisco) - The California Coastal Commission posted notice on June 21, 2019 of their upcoming public hearing on the Trump Administration’s proposed helicopter dispersal of 1.5 metric tons of poison bait pellets in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, located 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The proposed poison drop is targeted for this fall.

This controversial poisoning plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be considered at a hearing of the Coastal Commission to be held on July 10 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Luis Obispo, and written public comments are now being taken by the Commission at EORFC@coastal.ca.gov

Abandoned by the Obama Administration in 2013 as being too risky to the Sanctuary and a threat to adjacent fragile coastal ecosystems, while also posing unnecessary danger to non-target species, the poison drop proposal here has recently been revived by federal officials, who are now pushing the Coastal Commission to find their scheme to be “consistent” with California’s Coastal Plan.

“The millions of citizens working to protect this treasured National Marine Sanctuary are counting on our Coastal Commissioners to ensure that the Wildlife Service instead comes up with a more precautionary approach than random airborne dispersal of dangerous poisons that needlessly kill and sicken harmless wildlife while becoming more concentrated throughout the predator food chain.” said Richard Charter of Bodega Bay, Senior Fellow with The Ocean Foundation and an appointed member of NOAA’s regional advisory council that helps to guide policies for the marine sanctuary.

The Wildlife Service asserts that burrowing owls from Marin pose a threat to Ashy Storm Petrels, a seabird that frequents the islands, but the same agency has also declined petitions to list the Ashy Storm Petrel as at risk under the Endangered Species Act, noting that their population is on the increase. The Wildlife Service is now claiming that not one single poison pellet will reach the water and that killing every single one of the islands’ house mice – accidentally introduced during the Gold Rush - using a slow-acting poison, represents the only way to discourage the small number of burrowing owls (6-8) from being attracted from Marin’s coastal headlands to feed on the mice.

The poisons being proposed are the subject of increased scientific scrutiny because of non-target wildlife disasters during similar air drops on island locations elsewhere. The State of California has outlawed retail sale of the same toxic compounds due to the unintended damage they inflict on mountain lions, bobcats, an iconic mammal called the pacific fisher, and in terrestrial urban interface locations, dangers to pets and children. Legislation limiting their use is now moving through the California State Legislature. Some within the Wildlife Service admit that large numbers of gulls ingesting the poison pellets  during a helicopter drop this fall, could return to die in mainland locations they frequent, such as at Fishermen’s Wharf. Any accidental wind- or wave-borne discharges of the poison into the ocean pose a contamination hazard to fish, crabs, and abalone.

Public comments on this marine sanctuary poisoning proposal should be promptly directed to EORFC@coastal.ca.gov and identified with the relevant agenda item, number W14a.

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