Alien Rats Prey on Seabirds Worldwide

Alien Rats Prey on Seabirds Worldwide
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A rat gnaws at a flag-topped wax block on Alaska's Rat Island in August 2007.

Bite marks in the paraffin-and-peanut butter blocks help researchers and conservationists determine how many rats are in an area—and whether a poisoning program has been effective, according to Carolyn Kurle, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

While some animal rights activists oppose rat-eradication projects, conservationists say rat removal is the only way some seabirds and other island species can survive.

"The eradication of invasive species from islands—especially rodents—has heralded a new era in conservation management globally," said Alan Saunders, director of the cooperative islands initiative.

"Spectacular ecological responses have been measured following rat eradications."

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—Photograph by Stacey Buckelew/Island Conservation via Holly Jones of Yale University
 
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