Friday, April 3, 2015

Galapagos

My lab manager recommended that I listen to this podcast, so Rachel and I listened to it while doing Chemistry homework. It's an hour long, but is honestly such an experience, with topics ranging from political unrest, conservation efforts, and breeding programs in the Galapagos. My favorite part of the whole segment is the part about the goats.

There were 250,000 invasive goats on the islands that had been introduced 500 years ago. These goats were destroying the ecosystem there, eating everything and putting the tortoises in danger. So, after much debate, Project Isabella was launched. On Isabella island, thousands of goats roamed free, and authorities decided to take a small helicopter and fill it with shooters, finding and chasing these goats until they could take them all out. With these operations, Isabella island was 90% goat-free. But the problem was that the remaining 10% were smarter, and knew to hide when they heard the helicopter. They needed a solution to this. The idea of a Judas goat was brought up. They captured a few goats, put a tracker on them, and released them back on the island. Goats are naturally herd animals, so the Judas goat would find other goats, and the gunmen now knew their location. More and more goats were being killed while the Judas goat was allowed to live on, but they encountered another problem. When the Judas goat became pregnant, it wasn't social anymore and wanted to be isolated. So, they decided to engineer the perfect Judas goat by sterilizing it, and then pumping it with hormones so it would be in heat for 180 days rather than a few weeks. This way, the goat was luring the males out into the open so they could then be shot. Within a few years with the Judas goat, the goats on Isabella island were completely eradicated.

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