Largest rat eradication operation underway on subantarctic South Georgia Island
Conservationists say they are pleased with early efforts to kill rats on South Georgia, in what is the biggest rodent eradication campaign in history.
No-one really knows how many rats inhabit the island in the South Atlantic, but it could be millions. Introduced on the ships of sealers and whalers in the 19th and 20th Centuries, the rodents have had a devastating impact on local seabird populations. But the laying of toxic bait in part of the island seems to have had success.
Some 50 tonnes of rodenticide were spread by helicopters in March over a contained zone hemmed in by glaciers. Subsequent inspections on the ground found only dead rats.The kill represented just the first phase in the project, and covered a mere 13% of the rat-infested land area of South Georgia. Nonetheless, the South Georgia Heritage Trust says it has been hugely encouraged by the results.
“Prior to the baiting, if you went out at night, there were rats running everywhere,” explained project leader Professor Tony Martin from Dundee University, UK.
“A week after the bait went down – not a sign of a single rat. We even put out little batches of bait pellets that were particularly attractive to the rats. We saw them being taken for the first few days, and then there were no more pellets taken.”
Posted on: May 11, 2015
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