Friday, June 12, 2009

"Alaska's Rat Island rat-free after 229 years"

Ambitious. Wiping out one species so that others can live.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – 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.

But aren't we all introduced species at one point or another in history? Who says that after over 200 years that the rats didn't have a claim on the island?

Just askin'.

No comments: