Keitt quoted in National Geographic on failure of rodent eradication program in South Pacific
At first, the two-million-dollar rat eradication project on Henderson Island seemed to be working. The invasive rodents that had been gnawing on baby birds and sea turtles dwindled dramatically, with the island population down to just 60 to 80 individuals a few weeks after the bait drop.
Today, though, that atoll is once again overrun with rats. In just a few years, the survivors multiplied to 50,000 to 100,000—the same number as before the poisoning.
The results highlight the difficulty of wiping out rodents on tropical and subtropical islands, but they also rule out certain causes for the failure and pinpoint the number of survivors, says Brad Keitt of Island Conservation, a California-based nonprofit group.
“It was close,” he says. “There was just a handful of animals that survived.”