Friday, May 11, 2018

Largest Rat Eradication Effort in History


The U.K. island of South Georgia is 1,362 square miles in size, and is off the chilly coast of South America.

Its avian wildlife population has been decimated by rats and mice since they first came with whalers in the 1700s, but the big island is now rat and mouse free thanks to a concerned $13.5 million poisoning campaign.

South Georgia Pintails

The eradication project took four phases: During the first three in 2011, 2013, and 2015, researchers from the South Georgia Heritage Trust dropped poisoned bait from helicopters and also by hand at old whaling stations. This year, surveyors with search terriers scoured the island for 28 days in frigid temperatures for rats and mice. They found none.

Terriers Wai, Will and Ahu on patrol with penguins and elephant seal.

Two bird species threatened by rats and mice — the South Georgia Pipit and the South Georgia Pintail — are already showing dramatic signs of recovery.

Miriam Ritchie with Will and Ahu at Fortuna Bay.  Photo SGHT

Rats have been the most common
primary causal agent of extinctions in the last 400 years.

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

Rats #1, but cats a close second, though not on South Georgia Island...
Great paper by Doherty et al 2016...

CHristine McMorris said...

Alternatively, they could have air-dropped a small, determined band of terriers!

tuffy said...

i just worry what ELSE was killed by the rat poison...