Monday, 6 August 2012

Lord Howe Island to be cleared of rats

Iconic island has already lost 18 endemic species, including 5 birds
July 2012. Rats that have for decades plagued Lord Howe Island and killed off native animals will be wiped out under a $9 million plan announced by Australian Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and New South Wales Environment Minister Robyn Parker.
130,000 rats to be exterminated with poison
A bold initiative of the Lord Howe Island Board, the plan is to rid the Island of more than 130,000 rodents using poison baits, some dropped by air, in conservation areas. Special "arks" will be constructed to protect endangered species until the rats are eradicated
"The NSW Government and the Commonwealth are each putting up $4.5m to save the animal and plant species clinging to life on this magnificent island," Minister Burke said.
"Following a feasibility study in 2001, the Lord Howe Island Board commenced the eradication plan as part of its responsibility to protect the islands' ecosystems, the Kentia Palm, its tourism industries and the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors," Ms Parker said.
More than 30 species driven to extinction since 1918
Part of New South Wales, the Island describes itself as the "the Last Paradise", yet more than 30 species have been driven to extinction by the Black Rats, which came ashore when the SS Makembo ran aground on the island in 1918. Gone are five bird species, including the Grey Fantail, at least 13 invertebrate species, including two snails and 11 beetles, and the localised extinction of the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, White-Bellied Storm-Petrel and Kermadec Petrel.
Ms Parker said the success of the operation is dependent on the participation and commitment of the local community and a shared responsibility to protect the islands' ecosystems.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage intends to hold further meetings with the 350 residents on Lord Howe Island about how the project has been designed and how residents' safety will be assured. The CSIRO has endorsed the plan.

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