Pacific rat population on Lehua island remains extremely low
The population of Pacific Rats on tiny Lehua Island, off Kaua‘i’s west coast remains extremely low, two years after three applications of a rodenticide to clear them out of the State Seabird Sanctuary.
Mele Khalsa, of Island Conservation, one of the partners in the continuing effort noted, “The monitoring data collected on Lehua Island suggests that the population of Pacific Rats remains extremely low. No signs of rats eating eggs or chicks have been seen since the island was last treated on Sept. 12, 2017. There have been no detections of rats by camera since December 2018, and no signs of rats in traps or tracking tunnels. The monitoring team did detect what appears to be rat fecal pellets in early-to-mid 2019 and is continuing to monitor for rodent presence.”
The effort to eradicate the invasive rats is intended to protect seabird populations on Lehua.
Field teams that make regular monthly monitoring trips to Lehua are happy to report that vegetation is growing back as well. Plants that were often consumed by rats no longer show signs of rat caused damage. Many of the plants on Lehua Island are non-native currently but do provide habitat for seabirds. Established natives including Pa?u O Hi?iaka (Jaquemontia ovalifolia subsp. Sandwicense), Pua Kala (Argemone glauca), and Uhaloa (Waltheria indica) however, are doing well and seem to be expanding their range. There are plans to restore more native plants.