Rat-free Rat Island in Alaska

Black Oystercatcher Hatching from Island Conservation on Vimeo.

This video was recorded at Rat Island, Alaska.

From Reuters:

Alaska’s Rat Island rat-free after 229 years

Fri Jun 12, 2009

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 12 – Alaska’s Rat Island is finally rat-free, 229 years after a Japanese shipwreck spilled rampaging rodents onto the remote Aleutian island, decimating the local bird population.

After dropping poison onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets for a week and a half last autumn, there are no signs of living rats and some birds have returned, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rats have ruled the island since 1780, when they jumped off a sinking Japanese ship and terrorized all but the largest birds on the island. The incident introduced the non-native Norway rat — also known as the brown rat — to Alaska.

The $2.5 million Rat Island eradication project, a joint effort between the U.S. federal government, the Nature Conservancy and Island Conservation, is one of the world’s most ambitious attempts to remove destructive alien species from an island.

Now there are signs that several species of birds, including Aleutian cackling geese, ptarmigan, peregrine falcons and black oystercatchers, are starting to nest again on the 10-square-mile (26-sq-km) island.

It is too soon to say that Rat Island is definitively rat-free, however. That can only be established after at least two years of monitoring, said Bruce Woods, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage.

“We don’t know that there’s not a couple of happy rats hiding away that are going to spring out and repopulate the island,” he said.

Lord Howe Island in the Pacific plans to eradicate rats in a radical programme where entire species of native wildlife would be held in captivity for their own protection and cows and chickens slaughtered or shipped to the mainland: here.

Rats in India: here.

12 thoughts on “Rat-free Rat Island in Alaska

  1. America’s Arctic – including the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Arctic Ocean, and special places in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska like Teshekpuk Lake – is one of the world’s most dynamic, intact ecosystems.

    Urge President Obama to protect America’s Arctic for future generations.

    Bob Fertik

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    America’s Arctic, which includes the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is our nation’s only Arctic ecosystem. It supports America’s entire population of polar bears, roaming caribou herds, and millions of birds that migrate there from every state in the U.S. and across the world.

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    America’s Arctic includes three key conservation areas that are vital pieces of our nation’s natural heritage:

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    Thank you for all that you do,

    Cindy Shogan
    Executive Director
    Alaska Wilderness League


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