It’s raining… rat poison?
Norway and black rats are notorious for being able to exploit any resources available to them. Because of this adaptability, they have been able to spread around the word (with the help of people) and inhabit every continent except Antarctica. Although most of us know that rat infestations are a problem in human settlements, particularly cities, it may be surprising to find out that rat infestations are also a major issue in remote island habitats. One of these habitats is the Haida Gwaii archipelago. Rats were introduced to the Haida Gwaii in the 1950s after hitching a ride on logging boats. Their population has since exploded because of a plentiful supply of food in the form of seabird eggs and chicks. Indeed, predation by rats is thought be responsible for the decimation of many of the islands’ seabird colonies. To combat this destruction, Parks Canada is waging aerial warfare on rats! This September marked the beginning of the second phase of the $2.5 million project ‘Night Birds Returning,’ and involved dropping poison pellets throughout the Haida Gwaii. The pellets contain a low dose of rat poison and are unattractive to other species, which will hopefully prevent poisoning of non-target animals. The goal of the project is to eradicate rats from the islands so that the birds, and the ecosystem, can recover.
For recent news article, please visit: http://globalnews.ca/news/846258/parks-canadas-war-on-rats-on-gwaii-haanas/
For more information on the project, visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/cp-nr/release_e.asp?bgid=1735&andor1=bg
Are you worried about secondary poisoning of species that prey on the rats? I’m a student at the Tufts Cummings Veterinary School in Grafton, Massachusetts, and our wildlife center has shown serious problems in our area with raptors that come in due to rodenticide poisoning. I’m not familiar with the ecology of the area, but I would certainly be wary of the unintended effects of such a widespread campaign.