Category Archives: Island Watch entries

The Rat Island Law Enforcement Report

Taken directly from Law Enforcement Report # 2009703127 — Dept of the Interior, USFWS Office of Law Enforcement

SYNOPSIS

From Sept 26, 2008 – October 6, 2008 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR), partnering with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Island Conservation (IC) conducted an invasive rat eradication on Rat Island, located in the Aleutian Islands. The eradication method was an aerial broadcast of Brodifacoum, an extremely toxic and persistent poison, over the entire island. The following year survey crews found over 400 dead birds on Rat Island, including at least forty-four (44) eagles. Twenty-six (26) of the bird’s livers were tested for toxins and all but one came back positive for Brodifacoum, most at extremely high levels.

You can find a copy of the entire law enforcement report here. 

USFWS Internal Email on Brodifacoum Threats to Human Health — Fish contaminated after Wake Island Poison Drop

Department of the Interior Email ThumbnailWake Island, located in the South Pacific contains a military base and is under the jurisdiction of the US Air Force. Wake Island was the unfortunate recipient of an island eradication attempt in 2012, which was carried out by US Fish & Wildlife and Island Conservation. This eradication project was a miserable failure as the rats did survive the brodifacoum (rat poison) helicopter drops of approximately 22 lbs per acre.

What deeply concerns Island Watch is the impact to the entire ecosystem from this tremendous pesticide application. This document below was received by Island Watch and Animal Legal Defense Fund as part of our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.  This email exchange is between the US Air Force, US Fish & Wildlife and Island Conservation. and the issue being discussed is the contamination of fish, one year after the Wake Island poison drop.

This email thread references the brodifacoum lab analysis done by the US Air Force, however that specific attachment was missing in our FOIA documents. Since many documents we received back were missing attachments, this isn’t surprising. We have requested this lab report and we don’t anticipate it being withheld or redacted.

Some of the key points in this email discussion include the following —

“FYI – note the Wake Atoll brodifacoum results analysis.  We have a couple of options. I guess it comes down to how long we want to restrict consumption of fish at Wake. The current recommendation is approximately 942 days. Also with no money are furloughs occurring July 8 – end of September, it is unlikely that a sampling project will occur this FY. I’ll keep you in the loop, but thought you’d might like this info for future projects.”  — Matt Moran, US Air Force

” Attached you will find our analysis of the brodifacoum testing performed on Wake Atoll.  I appreciate everyone’s patience on this report, as it has ventured into unchartered waters with regards to human risks. Due to the potential severity to human health risk, we proceeded with slow, but purposeful intent.”  — Major Wesley Walker, US Air Force

Our questions include the following — what happened to all the fish eating wildlife that consumed poisoned fish?  What about current and future generations of species that consumed sub lethal doses of brodifacoum? Is anybody monitoring for epigenetic impacts to the entire ecosystem?

Click here to read the internal email thread.

FOIA Appeal Filed with Animal Legal Defense Fund

Farallon Appeal ThumbnailOn April 7, 2015, our legal partner Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed an Administrative appeal in response to the information released by US Fish & Wildlife, that was the result of our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request from May of 2014. As mentioned in an earlier post, materials have been inappropriately redacted, especially with respect to the inter-agency discussions surrounding the Farallon Islands Mouse Eradication Project.  Below is an except from the Appeal letter sent out earlier this week.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has violated FOIA by failing to conduct a reasonably adequate search for records responsive to the FOIA request. The FWS has also improperly redacted material from the records released, claiming deliberative process exemptions under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5) (“Exemption 5”) as well as claiming privacy interests under id. § (b)(6) and (b)7(c). Further, the FWS has failed to produce all documents, correspondence, pictures, video footage, and other records in any media that meets the parameters of ALDF’s FOIA request

 

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Update

EPA Email ThumnailOur FOIA request with US Fish & Wildlife concerning island eradications continues.

In partnership with Animal Legal Defense Fund, Island Watch has been reviewing thousands of documents over the past few months. US Fish & Wildlife has been very cooperative throughout the entire process, and is working with us to obtain the information we requested. Many attachments and documents are missing and we are in the process of drafting an appeal.

This heavily redacted email is one example of what we are very concerned about. This email is from the EPA office in San Francisco to US Fish & Wildlife and it concerns the Farallon Islands Mouse Eradication Project.

This email was sent August of 2011. As you can clearly see, US Fish & Wildlife doesn’t want the American public to see the inter agency communications between the EPA and US Fish & Wildlife concerning the Farallon Islands.

During the public comment period for the Farallon Islands Mouse Eradication Project, the EPA sent an 18 PAGE COMMENT LETTER outlining their concerns for using helicopters to aerially disperse (AKA carpet bomb) the Farallon Islands with 1.3 metric tons of loose rat poison pellets.

Island Watch is grateful for the help and support of Animal Legal Defense Fund.

 

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

 

In May of 2014, Island Watch Conservation Science, represented by Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with US Fish & Wildlife in Washington DC.

The reason for our FOIA request is to gain a better understanding of the business relationship that exists between US Fish & Wildlife and Island Conservation, a non-profit organization that currently operates as the sole source contractor for eradicating non-native species on US island territories.

You can find a copy of our original FOIA request here.

Our FOIA request has been classified as “complex and comprehensive” and US Fish & Wildlife has been extremely cooperative and accommodating in handling all details surrounding our request. Because of this, the process is taking longer than the customary response time.

In August, we began receiving large volumes of documents including email correspondence, contracts and other supporting information. This critical review process is time consuming and we are grateful for the support of Animal League Defense Fund.

We will be posting relevant updates surrounding our request shortly.