Park Service project could exterminate rare deer mouse

Groups file emergency petition to list Anacapa deer mouse under Endangered Species Act

provided by The Fund for Animals

he Fund for Animals and the Channel Islands Animal Protection Association (CHIAPA) late last month filed an emergency listing petition with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Anacapa deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus anacapae) under the federal Endangered Species Act. This rare, endemic, genetically distinct subspecies is found only on the three islets of Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park.

    Last fall, during Phase I of the National Park Service (NPS) program to shower Anacapa Island with the highly toxic poison brodifacoum to eradicate the black rat, every single Anacapa deer mouse on the East Islet – an estimated 11,000, or one quarter of the world population – was also eradicated. The groups fear that Phase II of the Anacapa Island Restoration Project poses a grave threat to the populations on West and Middle Islets.

    Although the NPS reportedly captured 175 Anacapa deer mice before poisoning the East Islet, this was far below the 333 recommended by the NPS geneticist for a sustainable population. There is no guarantee that the reintroduced deer mice would not be killed by poison remaining on the island.

    “The NPS claims it is killing black rats to protect native species,” said Michael Markarian, President of The Fund for Animals, “but it is succeeding in wiping out native species unique to Anacapa Island. The grave threat to the unique and rare Anacapa deer mouse can only be halted by federal intervention.”

    The Anacapa deer mouse plays a critical role as a seed disperser and would be the only terrestrial predator remaining on the island if the black rat is eradicated. An absence of the Anacapa deer mouse could cause an overpopulation of some plant and animal species. A second aerial brodifacoum drop is planned by the NPS very soon – probably before you read this – for the West and Middle Islets, despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency has not approved the use of the poison in areas where nontarget wildlife can be exposed.

    According to Scarlet Newton of CHIAPA, “We hope that our petition will halt the poisoning of the island and allow the Anacapa deer mouse, which is found nowhere else in the world, to continue to live there and play an important ecological role.”

    A copy of the emergency listing petition is available by calling 301-585-2591 or visiting

    The Fund for Animals was founded in 1967 by renowned author and humanitarian Cleveland Amory. The organization's motto, “We speak for those who can't,” illustrates a mission of speaking out against egregious forms of animal cruelty. The Fund for Animals is the only national animal protection organization that works on both advocacy and animal care. With regional offices and qualified and dedicated personnel working on education, legislation, litigation, and hands-on care, The Fund for Animals achieves effective results on a lean budget.