Lehua is a small, uninhabited island sanctuary in the USA’s Hawaiian chain that supports populations of breeding seabirds, including small numbers of ACAP-listed Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses (click here). Following an unsuccessful attempt in 2009 to eradicate the island’s Pacific Rats Rattus exulans, a second attempt was made this year over August and September with three successive poison bait drops by helicopter (click here).
Black-footed Albatrosses on Lehua Island, photograph by Eric Vanderwerf
It is usual to wait two years with no sign of rats before formally confirming a treated island is rodent free. However, according to news reports this week the signs for Lehua are already good a month after the last bait drop with no rat sightings or sign and abundant seabird breeding activity recorded on a post-treatment visit: “the island was full of fat, healthy wedge-tailed shearwater [Ardenna pacifica] chicks and we saw no negative impacts of the bait drop.” (click here).
A 28-minute documentary entitled “Lehua Island - Restoration of a Tropical Bird Paradise” will be shown on Hawaii TV this weekend (click here for viewing details).
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 October 2017