That sounds terrible, but do you have a better solution?
From reading the article it isn't clear there needs to be a solution. The total number of pestrel chicks actually being eaten by the owls is being offered as too low for the massive mouse eradication to be necessary.
What about owl poison?
Based on history books that were read to me as a child, a wind instrument should work pretty good for rounding up rodents.
Bring in the cats! Then, if the cats get out of hand, we introduce some kind of poisonous cat-eating reptiles.
Underfunded Government Science! What could possibly go wrong?
Good idea! All we have to do is lace the owls' normal supply with poison! Then they naturally eat their food, and it kills them!
So, what do owls eat again? Wait, what? Mice, you say? That works out perfectly! Now we won't have to poison all those non-native mi-... oh... wait... no.... hrmm...
Then the reptiles get hunted by introduced boars, then the boars get hunted by introduced tigers, then the tigers get hunted by human poachers out for pelts! Tigerskin rugs for everyone!
In other words it's a solution in search of a problem. Please tell me the rat poison industry is lobbying for this. It wouldn't make the story any better, but at least it would make the "need" make some sense.
Wow! What can possibly go wrong when that eventually gets into the water supply? This stuff is an anticoagulant. It prevents blood from clotting. Nice, if you have a controlled amount in your system under a doctor's care because of a heart condition. NOT so nice if you are not under a doctor's care and nick yourself shaving...
Has the mass targeted killing of a species ever ended well?
Rat Island is a fairly interesting book about the history of using rat poison to eradicate rats from various islands. It sounds like it has worked out fairly well at least a few times in the past.
It's rocky islands far away from inhabited land. There is no water supply to hurt.
Well, as best I can tell, the very definition of an island implies a water source. In this case the Pacific Ocean and a teaming ecosystem.
The problem with your analysis and the analysis from this HuffPo article, is that you don't really know anything about this situation. The USFWS employs lots of wildlife biologists and ecologists and works with a lot of ecologists and scientists.
It's like if I told you about how doctors are shooting gamma rays into people's brains just to kill a few cells. And you, a non-doctor says "That's crazy! Radiation is bad and its just a few cells!"
The key to science journalism is that you have to spend time analyzing scientific things, not just popping off.
1.3 tons of rat poison in the ocean will not significantly change the composition of the ocean.
Also, I bet the USFWS knows a lot more about this than you do.
So disappointing to see this hysterical, unquestioning reporting, Jason. Bummer! The SF Bay branch of the USFWS has worked on the environmental impact statement for this eradication of house mice from the Farallones for EIGHT YEARS. EIGHT YEARS! The document when I saw it in July was over 600 pages long. It contains, among other things, detailed responses to EVERY ONE of the hundreds of alternatives suggested by the public, including bonzo ideas like adding feral cats to eat the mice.
What you left out is that for more than a decade scientists have been using these "rat poisons" (nontoxic to most creatures; used in human medicine as blood thinners) to eradicate invasive rodents from islands all over the world, but most notably in New Zealand and Australia. And the consequences have been stunning: Saving endangered bird species, even recovering species of plants and animals thought to be long extinct.
Here is an ecological crisis--the imminent destruction of the last surviving members of seabird species present on earth far longer than humanity--and a carefully considered, scientifically sound method of protecting them. How about reporting on that? Please?