All news articles

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
Coup de pouce pour les Titi de Tahanea. Protection d’un limicole en danger d’extinction
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
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

October 23rd, 2013
Hawadax Island Recovery Exceeding Expectations
Rat Island makeover more than just a name change

For Immediate Release: October 23, 2013

“When I first landed on what was Rat Island in 2007, it was an eerily silent place. A typical Aleutian island is teeming with wildlife, swirling with noisy, pungent birds. Not this place. It was crisscrossed with rat trails, littered with rat scat, scavenged bird bones, it even smelled…wrong,” reports Stacey Buckelew, an Island Conservation biologist. Buckelew first visited the island to help document centuries of damage to native birds and plant species from introduced invasive Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus).
Flash forward to today—five years after the successful removal of invasive Norway rats by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (The Service), The Nature Conservancy (The Conservancy) and Island Conservation (IC). Much has changed.
“The island is hardly recognizable among the cacophony of birds calling everywhere; it’s alive with bird fledglings-teals, eiders, wrens, sparrows, eagles, peregrine falcons, gulls, sandpipers. The island is transforming,”says Buckelew, who has just returned from the now renamed Hawadax Island where she is helping document early stages of an extraordinary recovery.
For the first time ever, breeding tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) have been documented on the island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Species thought to have been extirpated because of the rats, such as Leach’s storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) and fork-tailed storm-petrels (Oceanodroma furcate), have been recorded on-island.

Ground-nesting and shorebird numbers are increasing as well. A 2008 survey documented 9 glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens) nests. This summer, an identical survey discovered 28 nests, a three-fold increase. Black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) and rock sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis) nests have also increased significantly.

Black Oystercatcher chicks and egg on Hawadax Island, Alaska.
Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) thought to be near extirpated by rats and snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) also decimated by rats are rebounding as well as. “During monitoring surveys in 2007 and 2008, we didn’t record a single song sparrow. This summer, hardly 3 minutes would pass without hearing a sparrow,” said Buckelew.
“The return of bird life to Hawadax Island is an inspiring example of what we can accomplish when we work together to fix a longstanding problem. It’s a win for people, and it’s a win for nature,” said Randy Hagenstein, Alaska state director for The Nature Conservancy.
Norway rats were spilled onto the island’s rocky shores in a 1780’s shipwreck. Since then the rats had decimated native bird species by eating eggs, chicks, and adult birds and by ravaging habitat. In early October, 2008, after many years of intensive planning the project partners successfully removed the rats using rodenticide bait.
For several years leading up to implementation, project partners collected pre-removal baseline data on the island’s bird, plant and intertidal species. Since the removal of rats, partners have been back several times to monitor these same species. These early increases in native bird populations are expected to lead to more ecosystem recovery. Seabirds drive the vegetation communities on rat-free islands by delivering marine based nutrients to the soil. As seabirds increase on Hawadax, scientists expect plant communities to return to this natural state.
“What a joy it was to visit Hawadax Island this summer,” said Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Manager Steve Delehanty.  “There were birds everywhere.  There is no more valuable action we can take on a National Wildlife Refuge than making it once again a haven for wildlife.”

Biologist Coral Wolf of Island Conservation conducting beach transect surveys on Hawadax Island to measure ecosystem changes. 
The project has also helped to restore an important Native presence. In 2012, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, representing the Unangan (Aleut) community championed and officially restored the island’s original Unangan name. Hawadax translates to “those two over there” (an accurate description of the two knolls dominating the island’s topography). While the island is currently uninhabited, it was used by the Unangan people for millennia.
Other species inadvertently impacted by the operation are rebounding today. There were unfortunate losses of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that predated on rats that had consumed the bait. Fortunately, more nests and chicks were observed with each monitoring trip, and in 2013 the island is once again home to five active eagle nests, including four with chicks.

Globally, 40% of all species threatened with extinction today[1] depend on islands, yet islands comprise a mere 5% of our world’s land area. Since 1500, 80% of all recorded extinctions worldwide have occurred on islands. Damaging introduced invasive species such as rats are implicated in nearly half of these. To date, there have been over 1100 successful removals of invasive species including 500 rat removals worldwide. Once invasive species are removed from islands, native species and the island’s natural balance often recovers with little or no further intervention.
“Hawadax Island is on a trajectory for recovery and the ecological gains we are witnessing are tremendous. They are a sustained testament to a conservation methodology and partnership that works,” said Gregg Howald, North America Region Director for Island Conservation. “We have had similar successes working with The Service and The Conservancy elsewhere. We are committed to a long-term conservation partnership to apply these transformative conservation tools.”
Hawadax Island is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the National Wilderness Preservation System. The island is located about 1300 miles west of Anchorage in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The 6,861 acre island is uninhabited by humans. Steep coastal cliffs, a small central mountain range (with a maximum elevation of about 950 feet), and broad, rolling plateaus of maritime tundra define this treeless island. There are no native land mammals on Hawadax but there are marine mammals on off-shore rocks and islets.
·         Heath Packard, Island Conservation, 360-584-3051
·         Dustin Solberg, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska, 907-424-5101
·         Steve Delehanty; Poppy Benson U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 907-235-6546

You can view and download this press release by clicking here


[1] Listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species
Tufted Puffins are breeding on Hawadax Island for the first time ever thanks to the removal of invasive rats five years ago by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Island Conservation.

Copyright 2007 Island Conservation • All Rights Reserved   |   Disclaimer • Privacy Policy • Site Map • Contact Us