Rats! signs of life

  • Photo courtesy DLNR

    More seabirds have been spotted on Lehua Island since a rat eradication project was carried out last year.

  • Photo courtesy DLNR

    A rapid assessment team flew to Lehua Island after two rats were recently detected.

LIHUE — A rapid assessment team flew to Lehua Island Tuesday after checks of motion-detecting field cameras showed the presence of two rats.

“While we are clearly disappointed to see evidence of two rats on the island, we are very lucky our partners were able to detect them,” Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case said. “We knew from the beginning there was the possibility that a few rats could linger. Now it’s important to address this.”

Human observations using monitoring devices last month did not detect any sign of rodents. Post-project monitoring followed last August and September’s trio of applications of a rodenticide aimed at ridding the island of the introduced, invasive, harmful Pacific rats to protect native seabirds.

Dr. Andre Raine of Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project noted last month that monitoring teams conducting investigations throughout the fall, using numerous detection devices, had not detected any visible evidence of rats.

“These cameras are highly effective critical early warning tools for locating any remaining rats,” he said. “They did their job and we can now target areas for a swift response to hopefully deal with whatever rats remain on the islet. As we’ve said before, we cannot say the rats are truly gone until the island has been given the all clear for an entire year.”

Mele Khalsa of Island Conservation, the non-profit contractor experts helping the Lehua rat eradication project, is leading the rapid assessment team on Lehua. The team is comprised of experts from Island Conservation, the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s non-native avian predator control team, and the KESRP.

“Our primary goal was to assess the distribution and abundance of any rats that may be on Lehua. These data are critical to inform any management steps we need to take,” she said. “After seeing these two rats on camera, we collected, immediately reviewed, and noted locations of any additional images the cameras may have picked up.”

Camera cards were reviewed after Christmas and revealed images of two rats. KESRP staff immediately reported the photos of two rodents, of unknown species, to DLNR and IC.

After reviewing camera cards on Tuesday, no additional rat images were found. The team placed 134 monitoring devices on Lehua, including three different types of traps. Some of the devices will be left in place; others will be re-established when monitoring teams return to the island.

The team will meet with project managers to assess a suite of additional treatment options including localized hand-applied rodenticide application.

The teams uses five different types of detection devices including tracking tunnels, that use ink pads to detect footprints; wax chew blocks; live, snap and GoodNature traps; camera traps and bait piles.

Monitoring protocols in place for the eradication program call for Island Conservation monitoring teams to travel to the remote island every other month.

This week’s rapid response is in advance of a previously planned bi-monthly monitoring trip in mid-January.

Other than the two rodents caught on camera, none of the devices have detected rat presence since the rodenticide applications began.

The invasive Pacific rat is a voracious predator on the eggs, chicks and even adult birds that currently breed and nest on remote Lehua.

  1. ruthann jones January 4, 2018 6:38 am Reply

    anyone surprised? Let’s just dump more poison on our earth!

  2. Steve martin January 4, 2018 7:22 am Reply

    If the state had used contra pest birth control the rats will die of age and will end the lives of all rats and would not endanger any other wild life period. I can’t even believe what they have done. They seem so confident about what they have done with the toxic poisoning. Shame on all involved with this project. If I was in charge this catastrophe would have never taken place.

  3. Jake January 4, 2018 11:32 am Reply

    What a royal waste of time and resources. Helicopters, motion cameras, “rapid assessment team”????? This state is crazy. Would love to get the total cost of this boondoggle to the taxpayers. For what,…….to save some birds. Again, this state is crazy. Probably could have fed 100 families on the island for a year with the hundreds of thousands spent on this. Would love to hear WHO approved all this, and how much the final cost was to taxpayers.

  4. manongindashadow January 4, 2018 3:45 pm Reply

    Humans are funny people. As soon as they hear of two negative possibilities(rats) on the island. quickly they(commenters) come out of the wood to open their big mouths.
    People think on the positive side and only two rats left out of hundreds.

  5. Steve Martin January 4, 2018 6:46 pm Reply

    Manongindashadow. … Big mouth commenters… You bet I’m totally against any poisoning of our environment. There is ways to do the job without the poison. They were told by many commenters what they had planned was the wrong approach to solving the problem. I see my comments show’s up twice. I guess I should have just left it with Susan case eat a couple pellets we will then see just what the poison does. The problem with this state and those in charge is they think they know everything and don’t listen to common sense solutions. If caring about protecting our makes me a “big mouth” commenter that’s ok I’m proud of it and you should be too!

  6. Steve Martin January 4, 2018 6:52 pm Reply

    Jake … the first story about this project quoted was said to be $ million plus.how pathetic can it get.

  7. manongindashadow January 4, 2018 7:50 pm Reply

    Mr. Martin could it occur to you that the TGI may have printed your comment t6wice by accident.
    And as far as Lehua Island . The environment did not have any harm done. It looks the same as ten years ago, yesterday, and today!
    You seem to miss my point. “two rats (possible, not sure) out of hundreds!”
    With that note, “I am not proud of “big mouths!”

    1. Mary McAllister January 11, 2018 2:47 pm Reply

      That is a stunning display of ignorance from manongindashadow. He seems to think that there was no environmental damage because things “look the same.” Environmental damage is not usually visible. Was the soil poisoned? Was the water poisoned? How many birds were killed by eating dead and dying rats? How many fish and marine mammals were killed by rodenticides in the water? Were the 5 dead pilot whales killed by rodenticides?

      He also doesn’t understand the population dynamics of rats. Their populations explode in response to the temporary reduction in population because their birth rates are very responsive to increases in the food supply. Fewer rats, more food available…BOOM many more rats. In other island eradications, rat populations returned to previous numbers within a year of being aerial bombed with rodenticides. Two rats of the opposite sex is all that is needed to restore the original population quickly. So, YES, two rats is a big deal.

      This comment from manongdashadow is typical of the fools who participate in these projects. They say dumb things not only because they don’t know any better. They say dumb things because they are defending their employment by these murderous projects.

      Here’s an article about nasty, stupid things being said in scientific journals by the people who are earning their living on these projects: https://milliontrees.me/2017/12/01/name-calling-as-a-substitute-for-scientific-evidence/

  8. Richard Godinez January 5, 2018 5:31 am Reply

    How stupid can these bastards be in gov’t that would ever think of dumping this lethal poison on plant and wildlife. To even think about doing this again, all of these bastards needs to be imprisoned for their sheer stupidity!

    Hey, I have a suggestion, let’s get these bastards that thought this up and are advocating this hideous and stupid plan,and round them up, put them on a deserted island, free of all life, and then dump 10 tons of this stuff on them!!! Enjoy!

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