Pribilof Islands, Alaska—the Search for One Invasive Rat is Over

The community of St. Paul Island, Island Conservation, and our partners are celebrating the successful removal of a single invasive rat from St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska.

Last fall, an unwelcome hitchhiker—an individual invasive rat—made its way onto St. Paul Island, Alaska, one of the Pribilof Islands.

The Pribilof Islands are home to more than 3 million nesting birds and are considered one of the most important seabird nesting sites in the Bering Sea. The introduction of one invasive rat might not sound concerning, but if that rat were to be a pregnant female, it could quickly escalate into a major threat. Lauren Divine, director of the Ecosystem Conservation Office at Aleut Community of St. Paul Island explained:

Rats have such a potential to invade and change the ecosystem in a way we’d never recover from.”

Snowy Bunting on St. Paul Island, Alaska. Credit: Gregory Smith

To protect native wildlife and prevent the spread of more invasive rats, personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ECO, USDA Wildlife Services, and Island Conservation came together to form a “strike team” in search of the invasive rat. The team set up cameras and traps throughout the island in hopes of finding the individual, but for ten long months, the team had no such luck.

That is, until last week when a visiting birder found the invasive rat dead. A sigh of relief has rushed over St. Paul Island. Although monitoring will continue for a few months to ensure that no other rats remain.

Featured photo: Two Least Auklets on St. Paul Island. Credit: Tom Wilberding
The New York Times

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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