Two animal rights groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Anacapa deer mouse as an endangered species and immediately halt a rat eradication program underway on Anacapa Island.
The Fund for Animals and the Channel Islands Animal Protection Assn. filed an emergency petition, saying the poisoning of black rats was wiping out the indigenous island deer mouse.
The National Park Service began poisoning black rats last year to prevent the rodents from feeding on the eggs of endangered seabirds. The rats also eat deer mice, park officials said.
But Michael Makarian, president of the New York-based Fund for Animals, said the Park Service was causing an "ecological disaster" with its poisoning campaign.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to make a decision.