At 6 a.m today, the Lehua Island Restoration Project Partnership evaluated local weather conditions and decided to commence the rat eradication operation immediately with the first of three planned applications of rodenticide.
Two outstanding permits for the project, an Endangered Species Act Concurrence letter issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, and an Aerial Application Permit from the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture, were issued on Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon respectively.
The operation will utilize a helicopter to drop bait in order to eradicate invasive rats on the State of Hawaii Seabird Sanctuary. The operation has resulted in a “Notice to Mariners” from the U.S. Coast Guard, which owns Lehua Island.
For safety reasons boats are advised to stay out of the channel between Lehua Island and the island of Ni‘hau during active flight operations. The helicopter, with a bait bucket, will be flying back and forth across the channel during the application procedure.
Subsequent application days will also depend on weather conditions and will be announced the day of operations.