The drive to eradicate rodents from Big Green Island is gathering momentum.
Parks and Wildlife, Tasmania has announced that their rat eradication program on Big Green Island has commenced. Big Green Island is off the coast of Flinders Island and is a nature reserve with high biodiversity values, including significant colonies of Cape Barren geese, shorebirds and seabirds.
Black rats (Rattus rattus) arrived on the island in the 19th century and have survived severe droughts and numerous baiting cycles. Black rats are some of the largest contributors to seabird extinction and endangerment worldwide and they can take a terrible toll on seabirds by attacking eggs, chicks and even adults. They also impact invertebrates and plants, which may lead to biodiversity impacts. While eradication of every individual rat on the island is a major effort, it is expected to have long-lasting positive benefits for seabirds and the island’s ecosystem.
The first stage of the project was completed in March, with volunteers installing more than 2100 bait stations on a 25m by 25m grid over the entire island and its three adjoining islets. The program is using the latest GPS mapping technology; an iPad-based mapping and field data-recording program.
Initially the rats will be given ‘free feeds’ to encourage their use of the stations. Baiting will then occur from April to July and post-eradication verification of success of eradication will be undertaken two years after baiting.
The baiting has been scheduled to begin after the island’s birds have finished breeding and every effort will be made to minimise possible impacts on the island’s seabirds.