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03:18 PM, January 25, 2019
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Drones drop Poison to Eradicate Galápagos Rats
Drones are being used to kill rodents in Eqcuador (image: Futurism)

Thousands of Invasive rats in Ecuador’s Galápagos archipelago have been killed with the help of drones dropping bait laced with poison on two small islands in Ecuador’s Galápagos archipelago.

A conservation group used this technique to eradicate rodents causing extensive damage to the endemic species of flora and fauna.

Drones were chosen for the task because they were a cheaper, safer and easier option than spreading the bait by hand on the extremely rugged terrain of the 184-hectare island, a nature research journal reported Thursday.

Two six-rotor UAVs capable of carrying upto 20 kilograms of bait for 15 minutes started spreading bait laced with rat poison around North Seymour island and a nearby islet called Mosquera on January 12.

The government of Ecuador partnered with Island Conservation, an American non-profit to drop an immense 44 pounds of rat poison pellets per trip. The drones are launched from a boat near the island and fly autonomously along a pre-programmed route, dropping pellets as they go. A total of 6,600 pounds (3,000 kilograms) of rat poison were produced for the eradication, according to Futurism.

Half of North Seymour was treated using the drone while the other half was treated by hand.

Conservationists plan to compare outcomes in the drone-baited and hand-baited halves of the island.

The group intends to drop a second round of bait using a drone in a few weeks. It will then monitor rat activity on the island for two years.

This kind of approach on vertebrates in the wild has been used for the first time.

In New Zealand, Craig Morley, an invasive-species specialist is researching the use of modified drones to lay poison for Australian brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), considered as pests in the country.

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