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Old 08-27-2009, 06:42 PM   #1
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Default Aleutians- Rat Island appears to be rat-free

Rat Island appears to be rat-free
ALEUTIANS: With vermin believed gone, seabirds returning to nest.
By Erika Bolstad
Published: August 23rd, 2009 09:49 PM
Last Modified: August 24th, 2009 01:13 PM

Rat Island appears to be rat-free: Wildlife News | adn.com
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No gnawing was apparent on the waxy, peanut-butter infused bait blocks that, if bitten, would signal rats are still present nearly one year after crews dropped 700 pounds of poison-laced pellets. A research team will return next year to be sure they killed all rats, but MacLean said it wouldn't be unreasonable to consider calling the island by what is believed to be its original name, Howadax, which means "entry" or "welcome" in the Aleut language.

"We would love nothing better than to return an Aleut name to the island," he said. "There would be nothing better."

Because Rat Island has been infested with rats for 230 years, it's difficult to know exactly what its ecosystem was like before the rat invasion. There are no other land-based mammals on the island, so the rat refugees ate their way through the eggs and chicks of the ground-nesting seabirds.

Neighboring rat-free islands in the Aleutians have a more abundant and diverse seabird population, said Vernon Byrd, a senior biologist with the refuge. Those other islands have about a half-dozen more types of burrow-nesting seabirds, including horned puffins, Leach's storm petrels and whiskered auklets. Without that diversity, Rat Island has long lacked the same cacophony of bird calls heard on other islands in the refuge.
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:47 PM   #2
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Staff, I am grateful for the spate of good news and humorous journalism. Sometimes the tragedy of bad news is hard to bear. These go a long way to ease the pain. Thank you.
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Old 08-27-2009, 07:52 PM   #3
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Default Welcoming birds back to a remote Alaskan island

Welcoming birds back to a remote Alaskan island
A seabird restoration project removes invasive rats that had preyed on bird eggs and chicks, creating an opportunity for growth.
By Cool Green Science Blog from The Nature Conservancy
Tue, Aug 25 2009 at 11:02 AM EST

Welcoming birds back to a remote Alaskan island | MNN - Mother Nature Network
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Last summer, when biologists walked along the rocky cliffs on Rat Island, one of more than 2,000 islands in Alaska’s Aleutian chain, they encountered an eerie silence. This place should have been a cacophonous and lively melee of bird calls.

The reason for the silence? Invasive rats. They colonized the island after a Japanese fishing vessel wrecked against its rocky shore in 1798. Their numbers multiplied, and for more than two centuries the voracious rats have preyed on bird eggs and young chicks. The birds gone, silence spread from shore to shore.
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We’ve received initial evidence that the invasive rats from Alaska’s remote Rat Island are no more. Biologists report three peregrine falcon nests. Several nesting bird species — black oystercatchers, ptarmigan, Aleutian cackling geese and others — appear to be more abundant. This means that the lively din of puffins, auklets and other birds may soon return.

But with the good news of returning nests comes an unexpected report...
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:25 PM   #4
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In June, project biologists reported the discovery of some dead birds: Most notably, 43 bald eagles and 213 glaucous-winged gulls.
Looks like I spoke too soon. Rats.
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:51 PM   #5
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Eagles eat carrion. This is one of those "well doh" times where all you can do is shake your head. They should have spent the extra money and netted the eagles. They could have hung onto them and released them at a later date. What's done is done.
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Old 11-04-2009, 10:10 PM   #6
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Default 230 years later, Alaska’s Rat Island may be rat-free

230 years later, Alaska’s Rat Island may be rat-free
Erika Bolstad
McClatchy Newspapers
Published: September 19, 2009

230 years later, Alaska&#39s Rat Island may be rat-free | Richmond Times-Dispatch
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The project has had some ecological side effects. Scientists found more than 250 dead birds on Rat Island in the spring when they returned for the first time since the island was baited. Those carcasses tested positive for brodifacoum, the poison used on the rats. Scientists anticipated that some gulls would die, but the deaths of 43 bald eagles disappointed them.

Bald eagles are plentiful in the Aleutians and, unlike in the contiguous 48 states, were never listed as an endangered species in Alaska. ..
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:03 PM   #7
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Default Rat Island is Officially Rat-Free

Rat Island is Officially Rat-Free
Surfbird News
September 13, 2010

Surfbirds News: Rat Island is Officially Rat-Free
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Biologists who are restoring seabird habitat on a remote island in Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge confirmed today that Rat Island is now rat-free. The report comes after two years of careful field monitoring at Rat Island, where the invasive predator decimated native seabird populations by preying on eggs and chicks.

“We’re incredibly pleased to see this fresh new start for Rat Island,” said Randy Hagenstein, director of The Nature Conservancy in Alaska. “In the Aleutians, great clouds of seabirds normally fill the skies over islands teeming with life. The rats’ devastation had turned Rat Island into an eerily...
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