Rats round two

KEKAHA — A second informational meeting has been set for the public to hear about the state’s plan to eradicate rats on Lehua Island with poison this summer.

The Lehua Island Rat Eradication and Restoration Project meeting will be held at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center at 5 p.m. Monday.

It was scheduled by the state in response to requests from the West Kauai community, said Dan Dennison, spokesman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“There is a lot of interest from community members, including Niihauans, to have more discussions about the project and how it may affect their resources and livelihoods, especially fishing,” Dennison said.

Representatives from the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Island Conservation will be at the meeting.

Depending upon community feedback, there could be more meetings on the project, Dennison said.

The plan is to use a combination of helicopters and staff members on foot from state and federal entities to blanket the island with a rodenticide and exterminate the rats that threaten the endangered bird populations on the island.

The first public meeting on the plan was held March 15 at the Waimea Neighborhood Center and was attended by 15 people.

The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture in 2009 and did two bait drops of rodenticide over the island in a first attempt to kill the rats.

That mission, however, didn’t kill all the rats and the population rebounded.

A draft environmental assessment of this project is open for public comment until April 7 and comments may be emailed to LehuaRestoration@hawaii.gov.

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