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Landscape on Floreana island, Galapagos
31/08/2022 Island restoration

Mitigation measures pave way for invasive species eradication on Floreana

The eradication of invasive species on Floreana requires careful planning to mitigate the risk to non-target species, including wildlife, livestock, pets and the 160 people who live on the island.

Photograph of Lisa Wheeler

Lisa Wheeler

Former Projects Manager at Galapagos Conservation Trust

We have been supporting the Restoring Floreana project for over ten years. As part of the Floreana partner network, our shared goal is to restore the ecological integrity of Floreana island. This work includes preventing extinctions and reintroducing locally extinct species, improving livelihoods by improving the foundational resource for ecotourism, and increasing the sustainability of agriculture and farming. Led by the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation and Fundación JocoToco, the project is currently preparing to remove multiple species of invasive mammals from Floreana.

However, eradication efforts require careful planning to mitigate the risk to non-target species, including wildlife, livestock, pets and the 160 people who live on the island. Implementation of responsible pet ownership and sterilisation campaigns are a vital part of the project as they will ensure the benefits of the eradication continue in perpetuity. Following a successful pet health and sterilisation campaign by Island Conservation, Fundación JocoToco and the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency in July 2022, 98% of cats and nearly 60% of dogs have been sterilised to date. Sterilisation of pets across the whole Archipelago is now mandatory, and a further campaign aimed at pet owners on Floreana is scheduled for November 2022. By the end of the year, the team is confident that they will be able to neuter the remaining cat to meet the requirement of having 100% cat sterilisation by the time the effort to eradicate invasive mammals from the island begins in 2023.

Cat sterilisation on Floreana island, Galapagos
A cat sterilisation procedure in process © Jen Jones

98 %

of domestic cats on Floreana have now been sterilised

Alongside this campaign, all pet owners on Floreana have received training in responsible pet ownership and understand the different options available to ensure their pets’ safety during the eradication phase. Prior to the eradication, owners will need to choose which option, such as keeping their pets inside or moving their pets temporarily to a different island, works best for them. Furthermore, pet owners will be trained in how to identify potential exposure of pets to toxins and a laboratory for the treatment of pets is being refitted to ensure accidental toxin exposure is quickly treated.

The team has also been busy writing and planning for the native species reintroductions after the eradication phase. In July 2022, Island Conservation supported the Galapagos National Park with the design and implementation of a three-day reintroduction workshop on Floreana, which GCT’s Head of Programmes, Dr Jen Jones, attended. The workshop created a collaborative environment where partners worked towards a shared understanding of what is required for all locally extinct species to be reintroduced to Floreana once invasive predators are removed. A key result was an agreement between partners on the timeline for reintroductions. The decisions made at this workshop will inform each individual species reintroduction plan.

Participants in the Floreana reintroduction workshop, July 2022
Participants in the Floreana reintroduction workshop, July 2022 © GNPD
Floreana mockingbird

12 missing species set to return to Floreana

Provided that the eradication is successful in removing invasive rats and feral cats from the island, the project will then be able to progress to the final and most exciting stage, as the 12 locally extinct species (or their closest surviving genetic relatives) are reintroduced.

Learn more

How you can help

You can help restore Floreana to its former glory and bring back the 12 lost species by donating today, or by adopting a Floreana mockingbird.

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