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October 15th, 2014
Palmyra Atoll: On the path to recovery
September 3rd, 2014
Conservation Wins! Our Impact Report.
September 3rd, 2014
The last places on Earth with no invasive species
June 24th, 2014
First Global Assessment of Seabirds Threatened by Invasive Alien Species on Islands Released
May 21st, 2014
Island Bright Spots in Conservation
January 29th, 2014
Saving the World’s Most Endangered Lizards
January 29th, 2014
Salvando a las Lagartijas en Mayor Peligro del Mundo
November 25th, 2013
Island Conservation Impact Report
October 23rd, 2013
Hawadax Island Recovery Exceeding Expectations
October 15th, 2013
One Step Closer to Restoring Balance and Safe Seabird Habitat in Gwaii Haanas
July 24th, 2013
Back from the Brink of Extinction
July 24th, 2013
International Experts Convened to Improve Tropical Island Rodent Eradications
June 11th, 2013
Titi on Tahanea get a Helping Hand; Globally Endangered Shorebird Protected
June 11th, 2013
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June 11th, 2013
Parks Canada and the Haida Nation Restoring Critical Seabird Habitat
June 4th, 2013
Native Iguanas and Shearwaters Saved from Invasive Mice on Allen Cay, The Bahamas
May 16th, 2013
Invasive Species: The 18-km2 rat trap
February 14th, 2013
Island Night Lizard: No longer threatened?
February 14th, 2013
Island Recovery Evident Ten Years after the Removal of Rats
January 14th, 2013
Battle at the End of Eden by Amanda R. Martinez
January 14th, 2013
Native Species Expected to Rebound on Rat-free Palmyra Atoll
December 8th, 2012
Galápagos Restoration Projects Makes Islands Safe for Native Species
December 8th, 2012
Island Conservation Opens New Office in Hawaii
July 31st, 2012
Funding secured for Lord Howe Island restoration
July 31st, 2012
Tahanea Atoll Motus now safe for the Titi!
July 31st, 2012
Island Conservation and Birdlife International Form Partnership to Tackle Pacific Pests
June 14th, 2012
Million Dollar Mouse Campaign
May 31st, 2012
It's Official!
October 31st, 2011
The Sounds of Recovery
October 31st, 2011
Olivier Langrand joins Island Conservation as Director of Global Affairs
ARCHIVED ARTICLES
05/2012 Restoring Wildlife Habitat on Desecheo Island
05/2012 Restauración del Hábitat del Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre de Desecheo
02/2012 Native Species on San Nicolas Island are Now Free to Reclaim Their Island Home
09/2011 Meet Dr. Ray Nias
09/2011 Palmyra: No Place for Pessimists
09/2011 Palmyra Atoll Restoration Project Completes Operational Phase to Remove Non-native Rats
07/2011 Island Hopping: Saving Species in the Tropical Pacific
04/2011 Meet our new Caribbean Regional Director!
03/2011 The Surfer's Journal meets Island Conservation
03/2011 Galapagos Restoration Partners Release Hawks Back to Islands
03/2011 Socios a cargo de la restauración de Galápagos liberan a veinte gavilanes en las islas
01/2011 Galápagos Restoration Project Achieves Conservation Milestone
12/2010 Island Conservation's 2009 Annual Report
12/2010 Island Conservation's Annual Report
08/2010 Rat Island is officially rat-free!
08/2010 IC helps Robinson Crusoe Island residents with tsunami recovery
05/2010 Meet our new South America Regional Director!
05/2010 Author David Quammen speaks on behalf of Island Conservation
03/2010 2010 International Year of Biodiversity
12/2009 Island Conservation's 2008 Annual Report
09/2009 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Publishes Priority List for Restoration of Islands with Invasive Species
05/2009 Island Conservation Honored with Department of Interior Partners in Conservation Award
12/2008 Saving Seabirds in the Aleutians
04/2008 IC and Galapagos and Machalilla National Parks unite to protect Waved Albatross on Isla de la Plata

 
August 30th, 2010
Rat Island is officially rat-free!
Restoration for Aleutian seabirds brings new life to refuge island. Biologists confirm increased numbers of at least one native bird species!

For immediate release


CONTACT:

Steve MacLean, Conservation Scientist, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska, 907-276-3133 x119 or Randy Hagenstein, State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska, 907-276-3133 x117
Gregg Howald, North America Regional Director, Island Conservation, 250-859-4534 or
Bill Waldman, Executive Director, Island Conservation, 831-359-4787 x111
Steve Delehanty, Refuge Manager, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, 907-235-6546

August 30, 2010

Rat Island is officially rat-free!

Restoration for Aleutian seabirds brings new life to refuge island

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 quiet place.”

Restoring habitat on Rat Island for native seabirds is the most ambitious island habitat restoration project ever undertaken in the Northern Hemisphere and the first in Alaska. The eradication of the non-native rats took place in September of 2008 after four years of planning. The restoration of the 10-square-mile island was led by Island Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Rat Island is the most ambitious restoration effort we’ve undertaken on a refuge island, and we couldn’t have done it without our partners,” said Geoff Haskett, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “Nearly 7,000 acres of wildlife refuge habitat has been reclaimed for native wildlife and that is an exciting result.”

Biologists have confirmed increased numbers of at least one native bird after just two rat-free nesting seasons on the island. The giant song sparrow, found only in the central and western Aleutian Islands, is now commonly occurring on Rat Island. Song sparrows were only rarely seen on the island prior to the restoration. Other species confirmed nesting on the island and expected to benefit from rat removal include black oystercatchers, glaucous-winged gulls, pigeon guillemots, rock sandpipers, common eiders, red faced cormorants and gray-crowned rosy finches. 

 “The presence of nesting birds is deeply gratifying,” says Bill Waldman, executive director of the nonprofit Island Conservation. “Our field team was overjoyed to see so many song sparrows this year after working on the island for several years with only an occasional glimpse of one.”

Though Rat Island is a remote island in the Aleutian chain about 1,300 miles west of Anchorage, invasive Norway rats preyed on its seabird nests after spilling from a 1780's shipwreck. The Rat Island restoration is the most recent project in a long campaign to restore otherwise healthy seabird habitat in the Aleutians.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been at work in the Aleutian Islands, most of which lies within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, restoring seabird habitat by eradicating non-native species for more than four decades. Non-native foxes have been taken off over 40 islands in the refuge including Rat Island but this was the first rat eradication for the refuge.

To ensure that invasive rats don’t spread to other globally significant seabird habitats in Alaska, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads the ongoing Stop Rats! campaign to help ships, harbors, and towns to prevent the spread of rats.

“The history of Rat Island shows we need to prevent future disasters caused by invasive species. Alaska is almost entirely rat-free, and it’s absolutely vital we work together to keep it this way. Birds that build nests on the ground – such as ducks, seabirds and songbirds – simply can’t defend their eggs and chicks from non-native predators such as rats,” said Haskett of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Island habitat restorations are occurring across the globe. Worldwide, there have been more than 300 successful eradications involving invasive rodents. Rats are responsible for about half of all bird and reptile extinctions on island habitats.

In 2008, the Rat Island Seabird Habitat Restoration team spread grain-based bait pellets across the island from helicopters flying a GPS-guided flight path.

Two years of monitoring following international standards revealed no sign of rats. Although initial non-target mortality was higher than expected, no sign of any additional bird mortality was observed in 2010 and populations of affected bird species are already recovering on Rat Island.

With the rats gone, restoration partners and the Aleutian Pribilof Island Association agree that an Aleut name would be a fitting tribute to the restored island. APIA is now taking steps to enact a name change. Once a name is selected, it will await approval from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

            For more information, please visit:

Rat Island Seabird Habitat Restoration Partnership: www.seabirdrestoration.org (high-res
photos available for download)
Island Conservation: www.islandconservation.org
The Nature Conservancy in Alaska: www.nature.org/alaska
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: http://alaskamaritime.fws.gov
Stop Rats in Alaska:
www.stoprats.org


To download the .pdf of this press release, click here.

Giant Song Sparrow on Rat Island, AK in June 2010.

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