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Rats infestation eliminated from Haida Gwaii island

A joint effort to eradicate rats from important seabird habitat on Haida Gwaii has met with success.

Parks Canada and the Haida Nation have declared Arichika Island rat-free after a 2011 program that saw helicopters drop poison pellets from the sky.

The island was once a highly productive seabird colony and home to abundant numbers of Ancient Murrelet, now a species at risk in Canada, but it was devastated for years by rats introduced as early as the late 1700s.

Parks Canada says the island’s ecosystem has been bouncing back, noting increased numbers of nests and chick-rearing by black oystercatchers, a species that acts as a sentinel for changes in coastal ecosystem health.

Ernie Gladstone is the superintendent of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

He says protecting the sea birds also has strong cultural component.

He says they’re monitoring larger islands to see if a similar program can be implemented on them.

He also adds that prevention is the best defence against invasive species from gaining a foothold on the delicate ecosystem of these isolated islands.

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