Metal fence removal improved survival of a nocturnal seabird on Isla Natividad, Mexico.
The black-vented shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas is endemic to Mexico and is currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Ninety-five percent of the world population of the species breeds on a single island in Mexico, Isla Natividad. In 2014 a metal fence was placed on the perimeter of the island landfill site to prevent wind-blown garbage dispersal. The fence was close to the black-vented shearwater colony and we found 116 shearwater carcasses during our first survey in the area. Using thermal cameras, we assessed the harm caused by the fence to the bird population as between six and seven birds/night. After discussion with local stakeholders the fence was removed in April 2016. Since then no more carcasses of black-vented shearwaters were found in the area. These results demonstrate that such structures can have dramatic effects on the survival of nocturnal seabirds and should be avoided, particularly in the vicinity of colonies. This was an example of positive collaboration with the local community and the application of research results to reserve management.