Madness I tell you
Sounds like the perfect way to breed a poison-tolerant rat.
Twenty-two tonnes of cereal laced with pesticide have been dropped on the Galapagos Islands over the past week to get rid of a rat menace that has seen 10 rats pack every square meter on the island of Pinzón. In the biggest raticide in South American history, the Ecuadorian government, working with conservation groups, has …
Not if you get them all. Adaptation generally arises from low-level exposure, where differences in the gene pool allow some individuals to tolerate the poison better and thus have a competitive advantage over the others. If you give them all a dose large enough that genetic variations within the species cannot allow any to survive, then you eradicate the infestation. This is one reason why it is so important that you finish a course of antibiotics you have been given, even if you're feeling better - it ought to ensure that the level in your body remains high enough for long enough that bacteria slightly more able to cope than others don't get a competitive advantage and start to predominate.
You possibly could with some difficulty (not least being the need to evolve normal tri-chromatic colour vision in a rat). But as you have already solved your problem by carpet-bombing an island with delicious blue poisonous bait, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.
The previous poster said you wouldn't evolve a rat population that was immune to the poison because no rat could eat any amount and survive.
But you could effectively evolve a rat population that was "immune" if there was a subset of rats that refused to eat the poison (for whatever reason) and passed that behaviour onto their offspring.
There are lots of examples of indirect/societal evolution like this in the animal world. It's often missed on a simple biological model
To the untrained this might sound like a brilliant way to breed resistant rats, but the people involved likely took their time working out how to do this properly.
New Zealand Dept of Conservation has managed to completely eradicate rats and other vermin from various islands. They have also conducted many pest reduction exercises on other islands. I the early days these were just "give it a go" exercises that often failed but more recently they have been exercises specifically tailored to build up a knowledge on how to use statistics etc to plan these exterminations.
The NZ DoC consults to various countries on how to conduct these exterminations and I expect their knowledge has been tapped here too.
Doubt though they will be asking for advice from random reg comentards.
On the flip side, as we've already inflicted ourselves on this poor place in the traditional human style, perhaps it's a great place to try these ideas, than, say, the Brazilian rainforests.
Of course, we could have just gone down the boozer instead. It is nearly beer'o'clock.
From the Oxford dictionary:
1kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of: the inhabitants of the country had been decimated
drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something): public transport has been decimated
2 historical kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group: the man who is to determine whether it be necessary to decimate a large body of mutineers
Historically, the meaning of the word decimate is ‘kill one in every ten of (a group of people)’. This sense has been more or less totally superseded by the later, more general sense ‘kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of’, as in the virus has decimated the population. Some traditionalists argue that this is incorrect, but it is clear that it is now part of standard English.
> but it is clear that it is now part of standard English.
What's clear is that a lot of people don't really know what words mean.
This is why people use "incredible", "fantastic", "unbelievable", "brilliant", "awesome" and a host of other words to mean "very good". Those words mean very different and interesting things.
Honestly, the real problem is the unimaginative use of adjectives by people these days, and the general substitution of the word "like" for breathing.
Incredible and unbelievable are synonyms even if you use their archaic meanings. Brilliant and awesome still retain their alternate meanings even in modern English.
Decimation meaning the killing of one in ten of a group is archaic, there's no way around that.
Words change. It may very well be because the general public does not understand their original meanings. This is not a new phenomenon though, people in the middle ages were busy misusing Latin, the ancient Romans were messing around with the meaning of Greek words.
It's a really bizarre idea that you can point out a specific period of history and say that is when a word was defined and it's meaning should never change. Especially when you're using so many words that no longer retain their original meaning without even realising it.
Your mission: Develop RAT-101, an autonomous system that can patrol an island-largish area in adverse weather conditions, either terrestrially or aerially for at least a week before needing pick-up. It shall identify and terminate any biological entity of the genus "Rattus" - and only those - by means to be proposed (possible means may include, but are not limited to, projectile weapons or force applied through physical contact). Reusing existing or COTS software and hardware systems is strongly encouraged. Proposal for compact nuclear energy sources are accepted.
That was a cool story, and they were actually cybernetically enhanced stray Dogs, kind of like RoboCop, with Jet engines, used as guard dogs; they'd probably make damned good ratters, given one took out a passenger Jet! :)
Pessimist? Why, yes, I am. Thank you. I prefer the phrase "able to learn from make past experience", or "willing to make an inference of future occurrences based upon past events.", but "pessimist" works fine, too.
I think it's a fair assumption that the entire rat population on these islands probably started from one or two breeding pairs. A thoroughly rat-infested ship would not make it all the way across the ocean -- once all the food is gone, the fun stops for the sailors as well, and so rat control en route would be a priority. Can you honestly say that you can eliminate 100% of them? If poison would work, why couldn't they be able to do that on ships, where there's fewer places to hide, and a LOT more motivation to eliminate them? Rats, even at that time, were not food animals -- but vermin to be destroyed out of hand.
Until those questions can be answered, I'm going to continue assuming that this is one of those sops to our collective conscience that doesn't actually *do* anything other than reduce the problem to somewhat manageable levels, while introducing toxins to an ecosystem that may not be as able to deal with it as we would hope. After all, something's going to eat those poisoned rat carcasses.
Cheaper? IIRC the last time a German rat charmer was enlisted, the village in question stiffed the piper and ended up paying very steeply. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get our hands on German rat charmers OR Discworld dwarfs (plus, for the latter, I think we have a ketchup shortage).
Wasn't getting rid of rats from an island the main monologue from the antagonist in the recently released Bond film Skyfall?
IIRC big hole with coconut (replace here with tortoise egg), rat falls in. All rats eat each other then get a taste for rat flesh, realease to wild until they eat every other rat.
Wonder how viable that is?
Mine's the one with the Walther PPK
You forget about the fact they're islands. The GPS helicopters are being used to help keep the stuff away from the water. Now, while it's possible they make it so that it's unattractive to aquatic life, you still have to consider the toxic compounds being leeched into the nearby seawater. Don't think it's gonna be all the healthy for the fish.
Rats have been a problem in the Pacific for a long time, predating European guano miners in fact. The asian rat followed along with the first Polynesian immigrants. The evidence that rats killed the palm forests on Easter Island is pretty good, though discussions on the reduction of bird numbers seems to turn to humans more than rats.
If this works successfully, can we scale it up and try it on Scunthorpe ?
Given the local populace likes blue WKD, then we know that blue is the correct colour to annihilate the chavs. It won't take a GPS 'copter either. Just leave it in the doorways of MaccyD's or on the steps of the 'Blarney Stone' and it will do it's magic from there.
There have been a number of sucessful eradication campaigns in New Zealand's offshore islands, but the buggers are pretty good swimmers and have been known to recolonise from nearby locations. (where nearby can be up to 30km away)
The rats in question in the Galapagos are either rattus rattus or rattus norvegicus - both are more agile, fecund and hungrier than the Kiore (Pacific Pat) which polynesians deliberately took along as a food source - but even the pacific rat had a huge impact on island fauna (not as much effect as introducing snakes to Guam did)
Build a solar powered flying quadcopter or 10 armed with autofocussing high power lasers, and heat seekers + pattern recognition designed not to target the local fauna.
1000W IR pulsed YAG lasers should dispatch an unfortunate rodent in about 100msec, thousands of shots on a single charge plus the rat corpses are then non toxic to other life i.e. birds.
The quadcopters could charge up during the day from a base station and then fly around at night frying the rats as they went.
Find or make something contagious which kills only rats after a delay like an incubation period, so that it has time to spread to other rats, and put that on plenty of bait around breeding season time.
Have multiple air hover hunter drones which can roughly target rats and rain multiple tiny rat sensor radio darts on them, followed by more precise killer drones which id, kill, and collect or GPS map them.
Have people, ground animals or robots find traces of rats, so that killing or tagging traps can be set-up to kill or track rats.
Drop many radio tagged (for later recovery), rat sensor, directional, tiny cluster mines, which do not fire if other animals are sensed in range. Lay more densely around the edges of the island.
"Find or make something contagious which kills only rats after a delay like an incubation period, so that it has time to spread to other rats, and put that on plenty of bait around breeding season time."
That's actually the standard poisoning tactic. Use something non-toxic for weeks so the rats can smell it on eachs others breath and crave it (especially if rats of higher status have been eating it), then mix in a poison with a delay action such as Talon.
Anything which kills a rat in less than a week will have the others putting 2+2 together and avoiding it.
Until they forbid any visitations by humans in the future, no matter the form of transport, the problem will merely reestablish itself even discounting natural migration from other islands in the group. Despite any assurances to the contrary from anyone, where we go, M. and Mme. rat go as well, excepting space (we think). I know the shipboard procedures, having been on a ship for several years, and they still get on, and off, no matter what we do. Indeed, I've only seen one class of ship that doesn't have a rat problem: gas-turbine vessels due to high frequency turbine noise. I can't see anyone mandating that be a future requirement and it still doesn't address other vectors (aircraft, et al.). Keeping all humans out, period, does. Which ain't gonna (apologies) happen when eco-tourism brings in quite a chunk of change, let alone the pointy-head, grant-spending crowd.
Given successive iterations of the accidental (really? you knew it would happen) reintroduction and killing cycles, you will create a more successful rat on the islands as there is larger variation amongst other rat populations to select from in comparison to the existing, island-bound, population. You just have to hit the jackpot of one male and one female from the tail end of the genetic lottery to create not only a local headache but possibly a much larger headache in the rest of the world. I bet no one went down that event-chain, did they?
Don't get me wrong, this is probably the best approach and I've been to a lot of islands with this class of problem. Still, the follow-on consequences, especially the ramifications of continued human visitation by the very people that are the constituency for future visitations give me pause.
Not only has this been done on some small islands off the coast of New Zealand, but just a few km from where I live there is an "inland island" - part of a mountain which has been surrounded with a predator proof fence and all introduced mammals within the area have been eliminated - rats, cats, stoats, goats, possums, pigs, dogs, etc. - in fact the only remaining mammals in the area should be two very small bats.
This area has recently had kiwi and other ground dwelling birds reintroduced to it - it can be done.
These rats have feelings. They have emotions. They're going to die a painful death. And the animal rights activists are sitting around twiddling their thumbs.
Now personally, I don't give a rats (haha) if they napalm the islands but it makes me doubt the sincerity of the animal rights people when they're selective about which animals get to have rights.
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