Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Killing all those dirty rats on Rat Island

No one likes a rat. No one. But when you, Joe Q. Public, are trying to get rid of a rat problem, you usually do it one at a time -- with a rat trap. Heck, maybe even dab a little peanut butter on the trap to entice the little creatures. Not in Alaska. They do things a bit different. On Rat Island, they getting rid of all of them -- at once. No messing around in Alaska. And all of this, despite the island being named in their honor. So much for Alaskan hospitality. Anyway, here is the report from the Anchorage Daily News:
    Last week, a crew of 18 left Homer aboard the crabber Reliance, bound for little Rat Island at the end of the Aleutian chain on a mission of devastation.

    By coating the island with tiny toxic pellets in an operation that begins this week, scientists hope to exterminate Norway rats, which jumped off a shipwrecked Japanese ship in the 18th century and colonized the 6,871-acre island 1,700 miles from Anchorage.
The size of the island is about 10 square miles and it has no permanent population. The newspaper has a series of photos of the island, the rats and a helicopter that has a spreader bucket hanging from it that will be used to drop the pellets to eliminate the stinking rats.

This will cost $3 million and has been in the works for years. It was reported, "Rats have been removed from some 300 islands around the world, including islands in New Zealand and atolls near Hawaii. But it will be the first time rats have been removed from an Alaska island." Steve Mclean, Bering Sea program manager of the Alaska Nature Conservancy in Anchorage, said: "To put it in its simplest form, a single breeding pair left alive is essentially a failure."

Good luck on your mission. They will return to the island in two years to find if they were successful.

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