Date of this Version
Introduced roof rats (Rartus rattus) pose a substantial threat to the fauna and flora of many tropical islands. In the Caribbean, there is concern about rat impacts to several endangered species, including the Atlantic hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the least tern (Sterna antillarum). The authors surveyed the rat population on Buck Island, Buck Island Reef National Monument, U .S. Virgin Islands in February 1998. Based on three nights of trapping, rats were of low to moderate abundance during the sampling period when compared to results from other Caribbean islands. The impact of rats on native vegetation was evident over the entire island. A rat management program was proposed using anticoagulant rodenticide baits in bait boxes in and around the two picnic areas on the island. Once an appropriate rodenticide registration is obtained, the baiting program can be extended to include the rest of the island. The eventual eradication of rats from Buck Island will not only provide relief for several endangered species nesting on the island, but will set the stage for the reintroduction of the endangered St. Croix ground lizard (Ameiva polops).