It’s Official!

Now free of invasive rats (for over four years!), Rat Island has formally had its name restored to its original Aleut name – Hawadax!

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, at its May 10, 2012 meeting, approved the proposal to change the name of Rat Island to Hawadax Island in the Aleutians. Hawadax (pronounced “how AH thaa”) is a return to the original Aleut name, in acknowledgement of the absence of rats—a return the island’s previous ecological state prior to European/Japanese contact.  The word ‘Hawadax’ roughly translates to “those two over there” as in “the island over there with two knolls”, referring to two modest hills on the island.

A Fresh Start
Island Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy removed invasive rats from Rat Island in 2008 to protect native seabird species. This ambitious restoration project would not have been possible without a strong partnership between organizations, generous philanthropic support, and the complete alignment and support of governments (federal, county, and state), local communities, and native Aleuts. Thank you!

Island Conservation is proud of the work accomplished in the Aleutians islands and the partnership established. The name change marks a fresh start for the island as the ecosystem continues to recover. Before removal of invasive rats in 2008, Rat Island was eerily quiet, lacking the calls of native seabirds and wildlife flying about the island. Monitoring trips since 2008 have shown native seabird species are benefiting in the absence of rats, including species like the Leach’s Storm-petrel, a nocturnal seabird otherwise at very high risk of predation by rats because of their small size and conspicuous calling activity to attract mates.

Ecosystem Response
Island Conservation will return to Hawadax Island in 2013 to gain further insight into the recovery of native seabirds like these and island-wide ecosystem response. This trip will mark five years since implementation. With every passing day Hawadax is one step closer to the sounds of seabirds filling the air and nests and chicks dotting the lush, green landscape.
To learn more about the Rat Island (now Hawadax) Restoration Project, click here

Interested in the monitoring results to date? Check out our Conservation Measures Fact Sheet for the project. 
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