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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The mongoose in the Caribbean: Past management and future challenges

  • Author(s): Quinn, Jessica H.
  • Whisson, Desley A.
  • et al.

In the late 1800s, the small Indian mongoose was introduced to the Caribbean islands in one of the most widespread purposeful introductions of a mammalian predator in history. Intended as a biological control agent for introduced rats in sugarcane plantations, the mongoose quickly became recognized as a pest due to its predation on poultry and native fauna, and injuries to livestock. Over the last 40 years, the mongoose has also emerged as the primary vector and reservoir for rabies on several Caribbean islands. Due to the estimated costs associated with this introduced carnivore, as well as potential ecological impacts, the mongoose is now listed as one of the top 100 worst invaders by the IUCN. Past large-scale control attempts in the Caribbean have proven unsuccessful, and few to none are currently being implemented. In fact, despite its renown, very little is known about the actual impacts of the mongoose. It is likely that combined with increasing rates of development in some Caribbean islands, the impact of the mongoose on native faunal communities may become more serious. This paper provides an overview of mongoose management in the Caribbean. Although current management priorities center on the role and management of the mongoose as a disease vector, this paper will also discuss opportunities to pair this research with 1) an assessment of the ecological impacts of the mongoose on native species, and 2) the development of mongoose control methods. The Caribbean National Forest, Puerto Rico is used as a case study; however, these methods can potentially apply to other Caribbean islands.

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