Thursday, 23 August 2012

Puerto Rican island to be cleared of rats to save rare wildlife

Desecheo Island rat clearance
August 2012. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Island Conservation have announced that efforts to restore Desecheo Island's native species and their habitat by removing non-native, invasive black rats from Desecheo Island have been completed safely and successfully. The removal of invasive rats will allow the native forest to recover and will promote the recolonization of the island by several seabird species that historically nested there.

Poison bait
Beginning March 13, 2012, the Service and Island Conservation successfully carried out the first aerial application of rodent bait in the Caribbean to remove destructive rats from the island and surrounding islets, while minimizing threats from the bait to other animals. Intensive monitoring took place prior to and after the bait application, from February to April to assess the effectiveness of the operations. Two years of additional monitoring will take place before the island can be officially declared free of destructive invasive rats.
"I would like to thank all of the dedicated and hardworking professionals involved in each aspect of the Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) restoration project" said Susan Silander, Project Leader of the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. "Logistically, this project was no easy task. However, with the expertise and dedication of each of these individuals the operations were carried out safely and efficiently. In collaboration with Island Conservation and Puerto Rican government agencies, we have begun saving our extraordinary species, and we are anxiously waiting to document and monitor the positive changes that we anticipate will occur on the Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge."
According to Brad Keitt, Island Conservation's Director of Conservation, "Desecheo is an absolute jewel of an island, but its birds have been missing for many years. That is about to change - using techniques that have been successful in removing rats from hundreds of islands around the world, we have begun the process of recovery. Desecheo Island's future is now one of native species thriving and abundant seabirds."

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