This year a start will be made to eradicate introduced Norway Rats Rattus norvegicus from the main island of South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* in the South Atlantic.
It is hoped removal of rats will aid significant populations of the ACAP-listed White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis, as well as of other species of burrowing procellariiform seabirds that breed on the island.
Phase One begins this month with the Habitat Restoration Project team arriving on the island with two helicopters and fuel that will be used for the poison bait drop. Phase One will continue with helicopter test flights, setting up accommodation and radio equipment, trialling of equipment and calibrating bait buckets. When the second group of team members arrive, a search and rescue exercise will be conducted, and initial monitoring activities will take place.
The first bait drop is scheduled for 1 March. When weather permits, the helicopters will disperse bait over Greene Peninsula, Thatcher Peninsula, Mercer Bay and Saddle Island. The team will undertake further monitoring activities into April and complete any final bait spreading before packing up the equipment and mothballing the helicopters on the island for the austral winter. Phase 2 is planned to take place over 2013-2015 and is aimed to rid the entire island of rats. Monitoring will be carried out throughout the island in 2016 and 2017 in order to ensure that no rats have survived.
Click here for more information on the project and to access its newsletters and the operational plan.
To read about another ongoing eradication effort at a Southern Ocean island, visit the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 5 February 2011
*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.