Journalist Rachel Nuwer searches for pockets of land and water free from invasive species, only to find that they are few and far between. IC’s Director of Science Nick Holmes delivers the good news about restoring islands by removing invasive species.
On California’s Anacapa Island, for example, invasive rats – probably stranded there by a 19th Century shipwreck – were eating their way through vulnerable Scripps’s Murrelet eggs and chicks. In 2002, wildlife managers called in Island Conservation, which has carried out removal operations on 52 islands over the past 20 years, to get rid of the rats. With the vermin soon gone, birds almost immediately began to rebound. The Scripps’s Murrelet population enjoyed a nearly three-fold increase in hatching success, and Anacapa saw its first confirmed endangered Ashy storm-petrel nest.
“The Ashy storm-petrel is this little nocturnal seabird with this beautiful musty smell, but it’s very vulnerable to rats because it breeds on the ground,” Holmes says. “Now that the rats are gone, we’re starting to see the island return back to what it once might have been.”’
Thumbnail photo by Abe Borker
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