Anacapa Island thrives after rat eradication
National Park Service officials tout the results of a 2001-02 program to exterminate rats preying on several species.
ANACAPA ISLAND — Just as factories brag about their accident-free days, Channel Islands National Park is showing off this rugged island’s rat-free decade.
To get rid of Rattus rattus, officials had a helicopter shower one-square-mile of Anacapa with poisonous green pellets in 2001 and 2002. On Wednesday, they ferried a boatload of reporters and scientists to the square-mile chain of three islets and declared victory.
Scripps’s murrelet — a robin-sized bird that nests largely on Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands — had been on the way to possible extinction, scientists say. Rats mauling the birds and eating their eggs littered the island’s sea caves with torn eggshells. Radar aimed at the birds confirmed that something bad was going on: They were spending a week on their nests, instead of the month required for hatching, before flying off.
Now the murrelets’ nests have quadrupled. Once again, mothers force their chicks out after just a few days to skitter down cliffs hundreds of feet high and crash in the ocean. Cassin’s auklets have been seen on the island as well. For the first time, an ashy storm-petrel was spotted thanks to one of about 30 strategically placed recorders that picked up its cry and transmitted it to ornithologists at UC Santa Cruz.
The program cost about $3 million, with much of the funding coming from the American Trader Trustee Council, a conservation group that oversees a settlement from a 1990 oil spill off Huntington Beach.
Posted on: May 11, 2015
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