Parks Canada, Coastal Conservation, and Island Conservation team up on the war on rats in BC
The two helicopters came in low, 50 metres off the ground, and began to make slow, merciless passes as they spread 45 tonnes of poison over the island.
This is how the war on rats began in Alaska, with a military-style assault that would hold valuable lessons for a project now underway in Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of 150 islands off British Columbia’s northwest coast.
Unlike most of Canada, parts of Haida Gwaii escaped glaciation and the isolated region evolved such rich flora and fauna it has become known as the Galapagos of the North. Among its wildlife: an estimated 1.5 million seabirds, including one-half of the global population of Ancient Murrelets. But a relatively new invasive species – rats – have been swarming through nesting colonies, necessitating the B.C. project that is part of a growing trend to take back key sea-bird islands from the voracious vermin.
In some places, rats have wiped out hundreds of thousands of birds. But although wildlife managers were doing eradication projects as early as 1961, it wasn’t until the early ’90s that they started using helicopters for the “aerial broadcast” of baits, a technique that has made it possible to tackle large, rugged and remote islands like those in Haida Gwaii.
Posted on: May 11, 2015
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Coastal Conservation is comprised of staff and technical advisors with significant expertise in biological systems and invasive species eradications around the world.Read More