Severe introduced predator impacts despite attempted functional eradication.
Established non-native species can have significant impacts on native biodiversity without any possibility of complete eradication. In such cases, one management approach is functional eradication, the reduction of introduced species density below levels that cause unacceptable effects on the native community. Functional eradication may be particularly effective for species with reduced dispersal ability, which may limit rates of reinvasion from distant populations. Here, we evaluate the potential for functional eradication of introduced predatory oyster drills (Urosalpinx cinerea) using a community science approach in San Francisco Bay. We combined observational surveys, targeted removals, and a caging experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach in mitigating the mortality of prey Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida), a conservation and restoration priority species. Despite the efforts of over 300 volunteers that removed over 30,000 oyster drills, we report limited success. We also found a strong negative relationship between oyster drills and oysters, showing virtually no coexistence across eight sites. At experimental sites, there was no effect of oyster drill removal on oyster survival in a caging experiment, but strong effects of caging treatment on oyster survival (0 and 1.6% survival in open and partial cage treatments, as compared to 89.1% in predator exclusion treatments). We conclude that functional eradication of this species requires significantly greater effort and may not be a viable management strategy in this system. We discuss several possible mechanisms for this result with relevance to management for this and other introduced species. Oyster restoration efforts should not be undertaken where Urosalpinx is established or is likely to invade.