Result: Rabbits are overpopulated now, and they eat all the vegetation that offers protective cover for the birds. Now the birds are more endangered than ever.
But this lesson remains unlearned.
Several conservation groups including the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Birds Australia said the problem was not the original eradication effort itself — but that it didn't go far enough. They said the project should have taken aim at all the invasive mammals on the island at once.
"What was wrong was that the rabbits were not eradicated at the same time as the cats," University of Auckland Prof. Mick Clout, who also is a member of the Union's. "It would have been ideal if the cats and rabbits were eradicated at the same time, or the rabbits first and the cats subsequently."
And they have a new plan.
Wren said plans to eradicate both rabbits as well as rats and mice from the island will begin in 2010. Helicopters using global positioning systems will drop poisonous bait that targets all three pests. Later, teams will shoot, fumigate and trap the remaining rabbits, she said.
Anyone care to bet that this will mess things up further? I mean, gracious! There is just absolutely no chance at all that some animal that isn't meant to be killed off en masse would eat that poison, right?