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Killing Rats with GPS

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the pied-piper dept.

News 101

techmaven writes "When Channel Islands National Park officials needed an estimated about 300 rats exterminated on the east side of environmentally sensitive Anacapa Island, Aspen Ag Helicopters got the call. The kill was necessary because the rodents, descendants of rats that reached the island by way of a shipwreck a century or more ago, were decimating the populations of two rare seabirds. And GPS helped the helicopter company do the job."

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101 comments

FUCKING POOP SHIT, MY GAY FRIENDS (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212002)

FIRST, I'd like to say I have no gay friends.

Re:FUCKING POOP SHIT, MY GAY FRIENDS (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212032)

Where's Katz?

Re:FUCKING POOP SHIT, MY GAY FRIENDS (-1)

Commienst (102745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212048)

Why is Finnish such a phonetically unpleasing language? Instead of talking Finnish all the time, the Fins should just use sandpaper on their vocal cords.

Is Mariah Carey a Negro? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212076)

I was watching a Mariah Carey music video on television when I got an erection. I enjoyed the pleasant sensation of my hard penis when I realized that Mariah Carey may be a negro.

As we all know, negroes are the unclean because they are descended for the sons of ham (see the book of genesis in the bible.). If Mariah Carey is a negro, I will have to punish myself for becoming aroused by her since she is an unclean racial type. Can someone please answer my question.

Son of Ham? (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212099)

Is that why jews don't 'eat Ham'?

Re:Son of Ham? (-1)

Commienst (102745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212131)

No. it is because the Jews are too cheap to buy Ham. How do you think they got so rich? Certainly not by buying expensive hams!

Re:FUCKING POOP SHIT, MY GAY FRIENDS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212142)

mono [monolinux.com]

They needed GPS for Night of the Lepus! (2, Funny)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212003)

http://us.imdb.com/Title?0069005

They can have their fun now... But what will they do when the big ones come?

Remote Control (5, Funny)

XBL (305578) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212004)

I want GPS on my TV remote control, so I can find it.

Re:Remote Control (0)

cybergeak (318482) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212017)

how does this get a score of 3, and NOT be considered off topic?

Re:Remote Control (1)

bpb213 (561569) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212018)

So what happens when you lose your GPS unit?
no TV or GPS (and you cant find your stereo remote or your liveDrive remote or your car keys....)

Muwahhahahaha

Re:Remote Control (1)

hazyshadeofwinter (529262) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212069)

You could get off the couch, look for the teeny-tiny buttons on the tv itself to change channels, hit the off button instead, and go find a book.

Or you could rant about nothing in particular on /., except your wireless keyboard & mouse are awol too...

Ob-sort-of-on-topic: The province of Alberta, Canada (where I live) is actually rather proud of being rat-free. Unfortunately, it looks like the tales of it becoming so by means of armed rednecks driving up & down the saskatchewan border are, alas, myth [gov.ab.ca] .

Re:Remote Control (1)

Anonymous Cowarc (568390) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212098)

Not even rats like it in Alberta.

Re:Remote Control (3, Funny)

mgv (198488) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212057)

I want GPS on my TV remote control, so I can find it.

If your remote had a GPS, it would know where it was.
This might not help as much as you would think :)

Michael

Re:Remote Control (2)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212940)

Let it send an SMS to your cell phone.

Re:Remote Control (0, Informative)

I have nutsack (568415) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212093)

Perhaps you would be interested in a Nüsse(tm) transportation satchel with integrated GPS function?

With such a device, one would be able to locate one's "nut sack" globally, were it ever lost or stolen.

I am confident such a device would be popular amongst those who read Slashdot, as many users seem to be living without a nutsack. [hemos.net]

If interest were high enough, such a fuction could be easily incorporated at minimal end user cost, were initial production yields acceptable.

Re:Remote Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212151)

I thought that they would snipe 'em from the satellite for us... :-) Sorry, couldn't resist...

Re:Remote Control (2, Funny)

Rozpoo (471699) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213209)

You know, this would work, until your wife decided to screw with you and throw it on the roof above the living room.

Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (2, Funny)

nurightshu (517038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212014)

Those terrible park officials! They're having those poor rats put to death when all of Ghod's creatures are sacred! What they should do is organize a nice conference where the rats and the seabirds can sit down and air their grievances peacefully, in a spirit of mutual harmony and understanding.

Seriously, this is pretty cool. Any time technology increases mankind's killing power, I've got to cheer a little bit. After the rats, how about some pigeons (also known as the "gutter bird" and the "winged rat," according to Kent Brockman)?

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212045)

Informative? What the hell? Where in that steaming pile of shit did this guy say anything that was even remotely informative?

(+1, Funny), maybe...if the mod has a really terrible sense of humor. (-1, Offtopic) almost certainly.

Mod parent DOWN!

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212242)

Hey anon, don't you know that Slashdot modding sucks majorly?

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (0, Insightful)

I have nutsack (568415) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212074)

Perhaps these farmers would be interested in an offshoot of our quite popular line of nut transportation satchels.

They're mainly used to transport grain, and are specifically designed in order that when shipping grain, the designated recipient is assured that the entire shipment will arrive intact.

We call it the CornWhole system, and once put in place, it's extremely difficult for the target to be penetrated by any agent (animal or chemical) except those specifically authorized.

We hope that it will expand in practical use, as it provides for particularly efficient transport, especially when coupled with the RNTP protocol [slashdot.org] we've established.

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (2)

nurightshu (517038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212220)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Tell me, when you hope that your CornWholed nutsacks expand in practical use, is that merely a description of the total number of nutsack users, or is that also a description of the carrying capacity of the sack?

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212245)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

I believe Professor I.H. Nutsack is on a 72-hour slashdot sabbatical [slashdot.org] , so he cannot promptly respond to your inquiry. Please forgive the interruption in service.

Re:ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212277)

ROFL! Mod parent up!

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (0, Flamebait)

Negative One (568362) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212190)

They should have a Rat/Seabird peace accords at Camp David. And hey, it'll probably be more successful than the Palestinian/Israeli peace accords... because even animals are more intelligent and sensible than those two fuckwit countries. Personally I think we should drop a neutron bomb on Bethlehem and claim everything east of Egypt and west of Iraq as our fifty-first state: Bloody Beach, "The Oil State."

Actually, this will solve all sorts of problems... being closer to its natural source, we'll be better able to fight terrorism. And we can feed the bodies of the dead Jews and Arabs to all of those cannibal heathens whom we're always giving "foreign aid" (read: you no workee, but you get free foodee) to. And Bloody Beach will make it much easier for us to launch the Asian** War (again China and North Korea).

Man, am I sick of hearing the news about Israel and Palestine every day. What? You say that there was a suicide bomb attack? You don't say!! I would never have guessed, especially because there are suicide bombings every day!! Eh? How do I know that? Because you tell me, every day!! You might as well report on the sun coming up and call it "news." Blah blah blah, bloody conflict, blah blah blah, peace talks breaking down. Americans don't care, and we shouldn't, because the only effect it will possibily have on us is making gas prices go up. We're a little busy right now -- see, a whole other group of Middle Eastern fuckwits are trying to blow things up in our homeland. And things are made worse by a bunch of liberal scum who refuse to accept that they have a homeland, and that it's the US, and they're going to have to forget their usual sad "equal rights" (i.e. more rights for minorities, fewer rights for the majority) and "protect the environment" (i.e. make it impossible to sustain our American lifestyle) and "campaing finance reform" (i.e. make it impossible for conservatives to buy air time, so that the liberal-bias media will be be free to promote liberal agenda, apparently uncriticised) BULLSHIT and watch the backs of their countrymen.

<mini-rant>
** Why do yellow people think it's cool to call themselves "Azn?" I must be missing something -- how does misspelling your ethnicity show "ethnic pride?" You live in a Western country and you wear Western clothes and you speak a Western language; you're about as "Azn" as President Bush. If you're so proud of your ethnicity, learn your ancestors' language and write your ethnicity using your people's own language, don't just take an English adjective-- a pretty recent one, I might add; ten years ago you were "orientals;" twenty, "gooks" (hey, I'm no fan of racial slurs, but we were fighting an "Azn" country and I'm not going to rewrite history to hide bigotry. I'm of German blood and have no false ideas about the mistreatment my Americanized family received during WWII). I play a lot of FPS games online, and always laugh at the idiots playing with "Azn" in their names. Yes, we -- meaning all intelligent people -- are laughing at your sad attempt to be cool. Hey, I'm white, maybe I should start telling everyone that I'm "whyt." Oh, wait, I forgot.. militant racism is fine for minorities ("Azns," ghetto kids, Zionists) but it's "bigotry" for a European person to have anything but hatred for his ancestors. You know what? I'm not naturally bigoted, but I'm going to become a racist if my people don't stop being oppressed. Revisionist history and affirmative action are going to to a lot more harm -- in the form of violent backlash -- to minorities in the long run than they will help minorities in the short run.
</mini-rant>

Hey, speaking of BULLSHIT, what do you think of the latest lawsuit against Phillip Morris? It cracks me up that these losers get any money at all -- hey, you brain-damaged bitch, low-tar cigarettes may be better than unfiltered ones, but they're still bad! Jesus Fucking Christ on a motherfucking pogo stick, anyone who continued smoking after the mandatory warning labels were added to the packages has no fucking excuse in hell for complaining. Hey, assholes! Alcohol kills brain cells and destroys your liver! Why not sue alcohol companies? I don't see warning labels on their products, which are just as harmful as cigarettes! GET A CLUE, FUCKTARDS -- tobacco may have fucked up your lungs, but you were born stupid, so you have no right to complain to the company that supplied the poison that you purchased and inhaled, knowing all the while that it was a health risk.

We live in such a stupid world with so many stupid people that it makes you want to kill yourself.

Or kill other people.

And that, my friends, is why John Walker Lindh is innocent.

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212311)

Why is this flamebait? It's the most insightful thing I've read here in ages.

+5 Insightful

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (1)

bedders (524690) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212224)

I bet there could be quite an interesting genetics study in this. Small isolated population, etc

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212876)

Praise Ghod from whom all blessings come...

Re:Kill?! Can't they find a peaceful way?! (1)

Tom_N (141967) | more than 12 years ago | (#3215717)

After the rats, how about some pigeons (also known as the "gutter bird" and the "winged rat," according to Kent Brockman)?
Your real name wouldn't happen to be Tom Lehrer, would it?

actually they used a helicopter to kill the rats (1)

kfckernal (517538) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212038)

The helicopter just used the GPS to navigate. Meanwhile some guy used GPS to navigate himself out of the desert, and a fisherman captain found his way to pango pango.

Re:actually they used a helicopter to kill the rat (1)

pacc (163090) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212521)

Damn, and I followed the link to see how they tuned the GPS sattelites to be used for pest-control. They must have had more than one military use, global doomsday machine?

A little overstated? (3, Informative)

thesupraman (179040) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212039)

An interesting article, however some of it is a some of this is a little hard to swallow...

their statenments about delivering sprays and pellets by air with an accuracy of 'within a foot' would be quite a thing to see, especially when you watch what a helicopters downwash does to items dropped from below it, and allowing for the pilots abilities (remember, the computer is not flying the aircraft here) - I think there cuold be a bit of wishfull thinking involved here, but I'm sure it looks good on the enviromental reports.

I assume they are using DGPS, which is generally available, for example look at:
http://www.navman.co.nz/oem/products/gps/rece ivers /dgps/index.html
also for a basic discussion:
http://boats.com/content/default_deta il.jsp?conten tid=2109
but this will certainly not guarantee you the accuracies they are claiming, at least not unless they are dropping the loads on the fixed beacons DGPS relies on (most provided by the coast guard in the US, also at some airfields).

DGPS is a wonderful development on GPS, but is still not that good. Interesting the russian GLONAS system is a little better (if more expensive for receivers) than GPS.

Re:A little overstated? (1)

DrStrangeLoop (567076) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212084)

their statenments about delivering sprays and pellets by air with an accuracy of 'within a foot' would be quite a thing to see, especially when you watch what a helicopters downwash does to items dropped from below it, and allowing for the pilots abilities (remember, the computer is not flying the aircraft here)

It's not impossible. I used to bull's-eye womp rats in my T-sixteen back home. They're not much bigger than two meters.

Re:A little overstated? (4, Informative)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213183)

Although I tried to find evidence on Aspen's site [aspenhelo.com] , it wasn't much use (I think they just win an award for terseness - particularily their history [aspenhelo.com] ). There was some more info [trimble.com] on Trimble's website. The AgGPS 132 [trimble.com] is the receiver used - it uses satellite-based private subscription differential correction services and the public WAAS.

My initial guess was that the system computer-controlled the sprayers, so that when the GPS system detected that the aircraft was over the correct field and over a not-already-sprayed area, it would trigger the sprayers. To compensate for overlap, some individual sprayer jets may not fire so as to not re-apply over the same area.

But that thinking was all wrong. The Trimflight 3 brochure pdf [trimble.com] describes the system very well - it's a precise guidance system aimed at cropdusters-- it includes measuring the field, determining a coverage pattern, guiding the pilot through that coverage pattern (with the help of a lightbar to indicate how far off-track they are), and then doing the recordkeeping to record what was sprayed where. It interfaces to a Crophawk flowmeter [skytractor.com] , but doesn't look like it controls the flow. This brochure also shows a helicopter doing application - the spray looks like a normal fixed-wing spray; I'm not sure why the downwash isn't blowing it all over!

A better way? (1)

brandonsr (550431) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212041)

Starwars missle defense system.. aww yeah. :)

the problem with this (5, Funny)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212043)

If they miss just a male and a female rat, the new rats will breed and the offspring will be immune to GPS :=)

Re:the problem with this (1)

Anonymous Cowarc (568390) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212100)

Not to mention Helicopters.

Re:the problem with this (1)

bluewater7 (560830) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213634)

That's why my restoration ecology class at UCSB were just over there loading up some rat traps on Anacapa. Anacapa is a really cool island btw. There are some really awesome views. I hope the rats get flushed out. BTW Sanchez, man those two pieces of pie were good. MMMMM pie. lol

Re:the problem with this (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3215271)

UCSB ... mmmm say hit carrie van shack for me :)

Hard to beleive... (2, Insightful)

CanadaDave (544515) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212056)

...that they sprayed enough pesticide on a small island to kill all 100-300 rats. Either they killed them all, as well as every other living organism on the island that is roughly the same size as a rat, or they didn't kill every rat. Rats are decently sized, it's a lot different than killing insect pests. Insect pests might require a few ppm (parts-per-million) pesticide in the air, but the kill a rat, hamster, gerbil, mouse, bird, anything of that size, would require much much more "pesticide." They must have required quite a lethal dose to get all 100-300 of them, as the article says. Not to mention the fact that the dose would have to be increased to take into account that a lot of the particles will attach themselves to plants, trees, etc... which are above ground. This will not contribute to airborn particles, and will not be able to kill a rat (unless they are of the mutated tree-climbing variety!) So the bottom line is, the dosage must have been huge for this small island. Or else there are still some rats around which have survived. They have probably started mating already. I think bringing in some owls might have been a smarter idea.

Re:Hard to beleive... (1)

Anonymous Cowarc (568390) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212106)

Regular non-mutated rats can climb anything. Trees included. They often climb utility poles then walk down the wires to gain access to houses.

They used bait pellets (2, Insightful)

mackerm (204645) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212109)

... so they didn't have to soak the place with RAID. I'm guessing that it is possible to make bait which is attractive to rats, but not birds.

Santa Anacapa is three really small islands, so I doubt there are any native land mammals there (or ones which aren't common on nearby islands.) Santa Cruz island has some native foxes, but that's about it. The seals are quite happy in the area, though. Maybe the beaches are the areas where the poison isn't allowed.

Re:They used bait pellets (2)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212422)

well the article says something like:

The system is designed to disperse materials in a 360-degree swath, but because pilot Miskel had to keep the pesticide pellets out of the sea, the spray angle had to be cut to 45 degrees.


which i believe is to protect the birds:

The kill was necessary because the rodents, descendants of rats that reached the island by way of a shipwreck a century or more ago, were decimating the populations of two rare seabirds.


so evidently they were worried about the birds eating the stuff.

there are links to the article so we can read them and discuss it. just because the editors dont read the articles doesnt mean we have to follow their example.

Re:Hard to beleive... (2)

dhogaza (64507) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212617)

There are poisons that are quite specific to rats and their close relative, so it is unlikely that they "killed every other living organism on the island that is roughly the same size as a rat".

The folks at the USF&W know more about biology than you do, that's clear. Having worked with USF&W biologists in the past I can assure you that on average they're quite knowledgable. Nowadays it's hard to get in without an MS earned in a discipline that requires a lot of field work, usually helping a professor whose studying habitat needs of a particular critter or something similar.

Playing God (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212058)

And just exactly how can these wankers be certain those rats came from that ship? Maybe they should stick to more conventional hoaxes, like the lynx hair thing.

Using a Trimble System :-) (2, Informative)

Byter (11845) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212066)

A Trimflight 3 system [trimble.com] . I work next to the people who designed this system here in New Zealand. And they might have even been using the GPS receiver that I write firmware for, the Ag214 [trimble.com] (Also known as the MS750). But they were probably using the Ag132 [trimble.com] which only does DGPS instead of RTK.

I'm sure this URL will be circulating around the Ag division of Trimble tomorrow :-)

Re:Using a Trimble System :-) (1)

nightrain_tg (308053) | more than 12 years ago | (#3222009)

does RTK stand for "Rats To Kill"?

Animal Fascination (1)

oakestv (97250) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212067)

First Chase The Rabbit [slashdot.org] then Killing Rats [slashdot.org] ...


use MissCleo.pm

predict(){
if ($nextStory =~ /GoatSex.cx/){
$CmdrTacoBachelorParty = $tonight;
inviteMe();
}
}

Re:Animal Fascination (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212514)

Take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.?

Re:Animal Fascination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212698)

Take the cyanide red pill and shut the hell up?

Rat Hat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212086)

Seen on http://lwn.net/ [lwn.net] :

So, while Red Hat is hardly failing, its claims of sustained profitability only work with sustained funky accounting.

Is this an Enron in the making?

This just goes to prove the old saying (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212097)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is great at killing rats." - Arthur C. Clarke

Heisenberg Uncertainty Deratter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212494)

You forgot the application of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: The more you know about the position of the rat, the less you know about its velocity. Thus you simply keep measuring its location very precisely until its velocity happens to transport it away from the island. When it vanishes from sight you no longer know its location, so it stops moving and falls in the ocean.

Wow this is cool... GPS and all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212111)

CowboyNealmouth is full of poopitypoop. Nasty CowboyNealmouth. CowboyNealgirlfriend will not kiss because of so much poopitypoop. CowboyNeal get a new hobby and stop sucking nasty chimichanga poopitypoop out of CmdrTaco bunghole.

Tourettes Syndrome? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212166)

An electronic forum with anon accounts must be irresistable to people with touretes. Twitching jumping and cursing at the keyboard, while venting the bile from a source eternal.

Alternatives to GPS extermination (5, Funny)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212117)

They could have just wrecked a second ship that happened to contain several hundred cats.

Re:Alternatives to GPS extermination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212199)

If so the several hundred cats turn onto several thousands ;) it's hour to call a legion of dogs!

This situation would be really cool, I mean, they'd document everything in video, and Blockbuster should't resist buying a massive number of copies.

Labeled "Technology, tactics, and sharpteeth".

Re:Alternatives to GPS extermination (1)

geoswan (316494) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212383)

They could have just wrecked a second ship that happened to contain several hundred cats.

Possibly they didn't introduce cats to eat the rats because they thought the cats might be even more effective at destroying the rare seabirds they wanted to preserve, than the rats were.

Presumably the rats were decimating the sea birds by eating their eggs, where the cats could not only eat the eggs, but eat the birds themselves.

Re:Alternatives to GPS extermination (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212425)

it was a joke. laugh.

gimpboy, The GIMP sucks major ass behind Photoshop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3215775)

Adobe is all way the best, and can defeat your father any day in a fight.

Nuff said.

Re:gimpboy, The GIMP sucks major ass behind Photos (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 12 years ago | (#3218674)

you missguessed my lineage. i am the spawn of the gimp... the gimp from pulp fiction. not the gnu image manipulation tool which makes adobe shiver with fear of falling revnue if their schmuck customers found out what they could get for free.

Re:gimpboy, The GIMP sucks major ass behind Pho... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3220648)

Sorry. I target'd on trolling Slashdot strictly.

Re:Alternatives to GPS extermination (2)

dhogaza (64507) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212683)

Normally predator introduction won't wipe out a target species. It's been tried many times, with an astonishing lack of success. So your cat idea is as worthless as the previously stated owl idea.

One problem is that rats have co-evolved with any of the predators one might choose to introduce and are well adapted to avoid them. Predators might make a dent in the rat population but there's no way the rat population would be eradicated.

But that's not the worst problem with your idea, which has been rated a "4" by the clueless Slashdot crowd. Here's why:

The seabirds in question, like many species of seabird, have evolved a breeding strategy based on isolation from land-based predators rather than active defense.

Land birds use a variety of techniques to avoid land-based predators. They hide their nests, build them on floating vegetation far from shore, build them up in trees, etc etc.

The sea birds in question get all the food they need to raise their chicks from the sea, so have no reason to breed in ecosystems that include diverse food sources along with the land-based predators that invariably are part of such ecosystems.

They just breed on remote islands that lack land-based predators capable of taking their eggs or chicks. They mass together as a defense against avian predators (who often breed on the same islands) much like B-17s massed against German fighters in WWII. Unfortunately these dense colonies are very vulnerable to introduced land-based predators.

The rat is one such land-based predator.

But ... a quiz for the clueless ... what's the most common and successful urban predator of birds, birds that have evolved defenses against land-based predators?

Is it the rat?

No, of course not, it is the cat.

So the brilliant idea here is to protect the seabirds against the rat by introducing cats, a far more efficient bird predator! Can you imagine the havoc cats would do in such a circumstance?

You don't have to imagine it, actually ... feral cats are a horrible problem in island ecosystems in which they've been introduced.

So ... this leaves us with the owl idea. Owls, which also frequently dine on birds ... hmmm. Maybe not such a good idea either, eh?

Dude, Where's My Sense of Humor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3213620)

It was a joke. Chill.

Re: Dude, Where's My Sense of Humor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3215163)

Sense of humour? Here in Slashdot the mods bash who posts things like "first póst" and "CmdrTaco- fucked-timothy-related-things".

Re:Alternatives to GPS extermination (1)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213875)

This would only compound the problem - don't forget the victims here are birds. Cats and birds don't mix. Rats eats the eggs, cats eats the birds themselves.

Re:Alternatives to GPS extermination (1)

Fluid Truth (100316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3222407)

Well, at least a couple of us know the story about Borneo.
Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo [amazon.com]

Of Course... (1)

mobydobius (237311) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212126)

Of course, what they haven't told you is that in the time it took for those choppers to lay down the rat poison, enough of those "rare seabirds" flew through the propellors to ensure their extinction.

Oh well, getting to use GPS is cool.

Re:Of Course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212159)

And those seabirds might find the rat poison to be tasty. Then they'll have to defoliate the entire island to locate the birds to save them from the rat poison. Then the defoliant will turn out to be flammable. Then the byproducts of the combustion will etch away at the underlying rock, creating soil that will never support life again.

fuck /. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212130)

and fuck you

Fuck Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3215780)

And fuck me.

eco-wacko control freaks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212140)

You know they fantasize about doing this to people.

GPS and rats (1)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212161)

And GPS helped the helicopter company do the job. who obviously hadn't heard of cheese and traps. (and exactly how are you supposed to aim at a rat from a helicopter I ask you)?

I guess... (2)

LiquidPC (306414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212175)

...the whole idea of survival of the fittest is dead. I don't see where they get off killing all of those rodents in order to protect a couple of rare birds. If the birds cant survive thats their problem. Damn meddling humans, and that dog. Oh well, just my 2 cents.

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212180)

No, it's just "fittest" has been redefined to be "what the humans want" in this case. The rats aren't appealing, the rare birds are, bye bye rats.

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212210)

...that rats will dominate the entire world.

Birds shouldn't rule anything. Mice want revenge against lab scientists. Rats are friends of mice.

That extermination of 300+ rats will become a serious motif against the human specimens.

Ants. We guess that they're dumb, but ants together can do anything. Same for rats...

Re:I guess... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212505)

Playing devil's advocate:

It was our carelessness that introduced the rats there, so there is some justification.

Re:I guess... (2)

Jerf (17166) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212938)

Playing devil's-devil's advocate (angel's advocate?): There's no reason that rats couldn't have been blown onto the island, and the birds have to be ready for that. Species have crossed the ocean that way before. It's a rough world out there.

Re:I guess... (2)

Jerf (17166) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212945)

(BTW, I'm serious about the "playing" part... I'm conflicted on this particular ethical area myself.)

Copy of article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212188)

Posted anonymously, because I'm not a karma whore

Globally Positioned Technology More Precise, Accurate Way To Help Agriculture

Jim McLain March 20, 2002

From microchips implanted in the necks of cows to gain quick computer access to their breeding and medical records to satellite-guided tractors that keep growers from skipping or overlapping field sections while spraying pesticides or fertilizers, sophisticated electronics are found throughout agriculture.

When Channel Islands National Park officials needed an estimated 100 to 300 non-native black rats exterminated on the east side of environmentally sensitive Anacapa Island last fall, Oxnard-based Aspen Ag Helicopters got the call.

The kill was necessary because the rodents, descendants of rats that reached the island by way of a shipwreck a century or more ago, were decimating the populations of two rare seabirds. It was difficult work, though, because the poison was banned from parts of the island and allowed in other areas in concentrations of no more than two pellets per square foot. And, of course, none of it could reach the ocean.

Sophisticated airborne equipment normally used to precisely guide the spraying of fertilizers and pesticides over Ventura County's citrus and avocado orchards and strawberry and vegetable fields got Aspen the job.

Pilot Kevin Miskel, who flew the mission, said it worked perfectly, though killing rats was hardly what the equipment's inventors envisioned.

"It was pretty critical. The criteria were pretty tough and the GPS really helped," he said. "It did everything we hoped it could do."

Satellite, Radio Links

The GPS Miskel mentioned is a global positioning system, satellite tracking equipment that is a lot more expensive and technical than the navigation devices some luxury car owners use to locate a cozy bed and breakfast or a grand French restaurant. Installed on one of Aspen's beige and brown Bell Jet Ranger helicopters in 1999, the $16,000 digital system links itself to two satellites and three U.S. Coast Guard radio navigation installations.

Just by flying a field's boundaries, a pilot can use the system to precisely map it, set up tracks for spraying that are accurate to within one meter, or 39 inches, and have a permanent record of what was sprayed and what wasn't. Other equipment controls the spray so no part of the crop gets too much or too little even in windy weather.

Called TrimFlight 3, the system is the more sophisticated of two owned by Aspen and only one of dozens of high-tech machines and devices that inexorably are taking the guesswork out of farming in Ventura County and elsewhere. Technology is not new to agriculture, but some of its recent innovations rapidly are improving growers' odds of succeeding in one of the world's oldest endeavors.

Widespread Use

"Technology is being used everywhere in Ventura County farming, everywhere you look," said Rex Laird, the Ventura County Farm Bureau's executive director. Added Kenneth Solomon, head of the Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering Department at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, "I'd be hard-pressed to find any particular area of agriculture that wasn't employing these techniques."

From microchips implanted in the necks of cows to gain quick computer access to their breeding and medical records to satellite-guided tractors that keep growers from skipping or overlapping field sections while spraying pesticides or fertilizers, sophisticated electronics are found throughout agriculture. Computers are being used on more than 55 percent of American farms today, up from 38 percent in 1997, the newspaper Investors Business Daily reported last month.

Some tractors have devices that monitor yields while a crop is being harvested, enabling a grower instantly to spot which parts of his land are underproducing. Infrared satellite imagery vividly showing coloration changes on large tracts of farmland also is being used to track the spread of pests and diagnose some plant and soil problems.

"The different shades of red show almost instantly where your weak spots in the field are," said Darrell Nelson, president of FGL Environmental in Santa Paula, a company that uses computer-generated chemical analysis of soil and plant tissue samples to pinpoint problems for California growers. "The satellite technology is just really awesome right now. We download photos of our orchards that are really quite good quality."

Stay with the Pace

Founded in 1925, privately-held FGL Environmental once used what Nelson called old-fashioned wet chemistry to find the lack of nutrients or high concentrations of toxic soil minerals that cause crop trouble.

Today, the company uses 70 employees and a lab building filled with computerized analytical equipment valued at more than $5 million to do up to 600 mostly automated diagnostic tests daily for growers from Southern California to Stockton. Its gross sales last year were $5.25 million, up $500,000 from 2000. This year, the company expects to spend $500,000 on new equipment.

"We either have to stay up with the pace of technology or get out of the way," said Nelson, who has been with the company for 31 of his 59 years," and we're not ready to get out of the way."

Still called Fruit Growers Laboratory by most growers, the company quit using its legal name and began calling itself FGL Environmental more than a decade ago when it expanded into soil engineering and water quality testing for the construction, water and environmental-impact-report-writing industries.

Today, those sectors account for 75 percent of FGL's business, Nelson said, but its agricultural work remains vital. Its chemists and machines heat soil and plant tissue samples enveloped in inert gases to more than 10,000 degrees and measure the light from burning tissues to break down components into the parts-per-billion range. They're seeking nitrates, phosphates, chlorides and other elements.

"We measure some items for electrical conductivity. The higher the conductivity, the higher the salt content," Nelson said. "This is where the interpretation comes in. If you know how to interpret electrical conductivity, we can tell you whether the soil is too salty for strawberries, but OK for broccoli or something like that."

Sophisticated Rat Killer

Aspen Ag Helicopters' high-tech GPS system was effective in eradicating those black rats from the east side of Anacapa Island last fall, but it required some low-tech help. The system is designed to disperse materials in a 360-degree swath, but because pilot Miskel had to keep the pesticide pellets out of the sea, the spray angle had to be cut to 45 degrees.

"We had to put an aluminum shield around the broadcaster (the chopper's on-board pellet container)," Miskel recalled. "Our high-tech system told us where to throw the stuff, and this low-tech device kept it from going the other way."

Steve Ortega, the National Park Service biologist in charge of the project, said it was so successful that Aspen almost certainly will get the job this fall when rats on the middle and western side of Anacapa Island are targeted. Black rat kills are also planned for the park's other islands.

"The area where they worked is rat free right now," Ortega said. "Their digital GPS unit gave us real time tracking of exactly where the poison was dropped."

Computer-Generated Maps

Rob Scherzinger, manager of Aspen's ag program, was not surprised the park people were satisfied. The company uses its equipment on about 250 days a year, mostly for agricultural applications, but also to spread fast-growing grass seed in areas blackened by brush fires and pour copper sulfate, which kills algae, into Southern California reservoirs.

"They tell us where they want the stuff, give us the latitude and longitude to go from point A to point B, and all we've got to do is plug in the GPS and we get it right where they want it," Scherzinger said. "The algae doesn't like it, but the fish don't mind it."

In farming operations, the GPS-guided choppers can cover 60 acres in an hour, using a computer-generated moving map that keeps pilots following its green lines to within one foot of a perfect course, he said. Growers pay about $1,000 an hour for the service.

"It's one of those things where if you don't have it you just miss it something awful," Scherzinger said. "We use it every day we spray."

Re:Copy of article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212231)

What a coincidence! I'm not a karma whore too.

Rat Numbers Don't Add Up? (1)

Tom_N (141967) | more than 12 years ago | (#3215731)

The story says that the rats have been on the island for a century.


Then it says that the exterminators killed 100 to 300 rats.


Maybe I'm missing something, but wouldn't a rat population given 100 years to grow without interference from humans number a lot more than 100 to 300 individuals by now? Or are they saying that the rat population was already held in check at 100 to 300 by the carrying capacity of the ecosystem?

Farmers really pay this much? (2, Insightful)

fruey (563914) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212203)

Growers pay about $1,000 an hour for the service.

I don't know about all this. Increasing yields, paying huge sums of money... in the end, it still means that less and less human intervention is needed, less jobs are created, big farms get richer and smaller farms just can't keep up.

It's not really like technology is helping democratise here, is it?

Re:Farmers really pay this much? (2)

Rasta Prefect (250915) | more than 12 years ago | (#3214996)

I don't know about all this. Increasing yields, paying huge sums of money... in the end, it still means that less and less human intervention is needed, less jobs are created, big farms get richer and smaller farms just can't keep up.

Yup. This trend has only been going on, for what a couple of hundred years now since Mr. McCormick and his reaper. All in all, I consider this a pretty good thing, since it means that we now need about 2% of our population involved in agriculture to feed ourselves, rather than the 50% of the good old days. Food in cheap and plentiful, and I don't have to grow it.

This is the march of progress - technology makes things more efficient, so you need fewer people doing any given task. Costs go down, and more resources are available for all. Farming is just catching up to what every other industry did back in the 1800's. It's industrializing. You don't wander down to the neighborhood tailor to buy your cloths anymore(unless you've got a good deal of money) and you don't nessecarily buy your food from the family farm anymore. Small isn't efficient. If small famers want to compete, they need to form cooperatives and be as efficient. If not, well, thats capitalism and the other guy is cheaper. It's not as though we don't subsidize farming in ridiculous amounts anyway.

Re:Farmers really pay this much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3215566)

If we could keep more dumbshits down on the farm they wouldn't be clogging the internet with their mindless posts.

I can guarantee they didn't kill all the rats (2, Informative)

mancuskc (211986) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212234)

Rats living in the wild 'elect' a food taster, who tastes any new food, while the rest of the pack watches. If he/she becmes ill, the rest of the rats don't touch the food.

Even when living in captivity alone, rats will taste a tiny bit of new food, and see if they become ill, finishing the food if not, so the posion they used would have to be increadibly strong to kill a single rat with a single bite, or very slow acting to kill a pack after the taster has sampled it and given it the OK.

Clever little critters. I've kept domesticated ones for many years, and they never cease to amaze me with things they do or learn. You can house train them, get them to come when called, and do simple tricks for treats, just like dogs.

It is reckoned that living in a big city, you are never more than 3 yards away from a wild rat. Nuff said!

First rats... (1)

Recovery1 (217499) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212258)

Then humans.

Killing Rats with GPS... Great Idea! (2)

jackal! (88105) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212319)


I can't even afford a call phone, why should rodents be allowed to live with GPS!?
I agree with this post: Kill all the rats with GPS, and give us needy humans some of that technology!

Thanks to video games... (1)

mstyne (133363) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212527)

This sounds vaguely similar to Sewer Shark, an old school game for Sega CD. Basically, you flew around in this hovercraft shooting at rats. Now this was entertainment! I can only imagine that the helicopter version is ten times better...

A funny story (2)

mfos.org (471768) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212619)

This reminds me of the situation on the Galapagos islands.

Goats had been introduced back when the first sailors had arrived. Now they are upsetting the balance of the ecosystem and must be erradicated. Unfortunatly, due to the delicate nature of the ecosystem, and the general lack of navigability around the island, goat removal options are few.

One is to use $20,000 dollar goat attack dogs (I swear on my karma I'm not making this up) with self-destruct collars (if they attack anything besides goats)

The other is called the judas goat program. One goat is captured, his horns painted and a tracking device attached, then let lose. In a few days he will find another goat herd, at which time a helicopter with hunters (goat snipers, again I'm not making this up) flys over the herd, and methodicaly pick off each goat except the judas goat.

Re:A funny story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3212865)

...goat removal options are few

"Doctor, I've got this goat growing out of my arm! What can I do?"

Well...I'm sorry, but goat removal options are few.

Now, If That Doesn't Just Get Your Goat (3, Funny)

Wintersmute (557244) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213646)

You left off the rest of the story.... they paid the Iscariot goat 30 bucks for his troubles, and he tried to turn it down. But they said take it, and he did. Then guilt came to him, and his goat heart was heavy, and he went off and hanged himself. (and became goat jerky)

Bizarre reasoning (1)

hacksoncode (239847) | more than 12 years ago | (#3212821)

So let me see if I understand their thought processes here:

1) We have a fragile ecosystem that is being decimated by interloping humans^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hrats.

2) This is a protected environment for rare seabirds.

3) The very first ecological disaster that led to the banning of a pesticide was due to it's negative effect on the indiginous bird population (DDT).

Conclusion: we should drop a ton of poison pellets in this National Park in order to save the birds.

And I thought some of Microsoft's arguments in their anti-trust case were wacky...

Killing rats with GPS? (2)

Have Blue (616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213064)

C'mon, how many people, upon reading that headline, immediately thought of the "Killswitch" episode of X-files?

Quibble... (1)

homebru (57152) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213248)

were decimating the populations

Decimate, obliterate, or exterminate?

that's too bad (1)

loomis (141922) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213294)

Not the type of story I like to see on /. Domesticated rats are intelligent animals that make *great* pets. I understand that these particular animals needed to be killed, but it's a shame, and that shame is not the focus of this story; rather it is the gps. Technology is not more important than life--any life.

loomis

I know these folks (1)

Das Fink (462558) | more than 12 years ago | (#3213614)

I actualy live in Oxnard, and my father is a farmer. My family has known the folks at Aspen as long as I can remeber.
I am also pretty familiar with GPS's and Helicopters.

one more thing I am familiar with; Anacapa Island, and I just can't see how GPS would help with this job. Anacapa is little more than a rock that juts out of the ocean about 14 miles off the coast of California, you can see it from anywhere in ventura county that has a clear view of the ocean.The island is broken up into 3 smaller islands each not much larger than a couple of hundred yards. Any sufficently detailed map should be all you would need to precisley dump your poison.

dougal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3214675)

u rain asl ut

Just hold survivor 56 1/2 on the island. (1)

slam smith (61863) | more than 12 years ago | (#3215266)

The Park service could have made some money off this whole thing. Just call Mark Burnett and let him hold the next edition of survivor on the island. Then just them eat the rats, and plus you can charge the contestants a campground fee.
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