Misjudgements made two years ago during a rat-eradication programme on Alaska’s aptly named Rat Island, which led to the death of more than 420 birds — including 46 bald eagles — have now been detailed.
A report by the Ornithological Council — an association of ornithology organizations in the Americas — documents flaws in the eradication programme carried out by the US Fish a
nd Wildlife Service (FWS) and two conservation groups on the remote Aleutian island, which lies within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The key finding is that Island Conservation, the group based in Santa Cruz, California, that led the operation, applied poison in excess of that recommended by an advisory panel and probably above the legal limit approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Rat Island was a huge and complicated project,” says Steve Delehanty, manager of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. “It was a learning experience, and we made mistakes together.”