U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
The Biology of Introduced Norway Rats on Kiska Island, Alaska, and an Evaluation of an Eradication Approach
Date of this Version
Introduced, invasive rats can cause substantial damage to native flora and fauna, including ground-nesting seabirds, when they become established on islands. We tested a control method for introduced Norway rats on Kiska Island, Alaska, during April-May, 2004, by hand-broadcasting rodenticide pellets (0.005% diaphacinone) over a 4-ha area at the rate of 28 kg/ha. We also gathered data on aspects of rat ecology and distribution, although rats were difficult to detect and capture. The rodenticide bait pellets seemed to have been effective in reducing the Norway rat population, however, this is based on a limited observation of rat sign and captures. Four rats were captured on elevational transects on the north side of the island, all below 20 m elevation. Twelve rats captured in other aspects of the study also came from lower elevations. Rat stomach contents revealed that vegetation and seabirds were important components of the diet at the north end of Kiska Island, but stomach contents varied by location depending upon the type of food most readily available. All eight females captured were pregnant and bore an average of 10 embryos. Although the control or eradication of rats at remote locations such as the Aleutian Islands is theoretically possible, there are many challenges posed to resource managers. This field study has provided insight into the ecology and management of Norway rats at Kiska Island, but also points out some of the challenges that remain.
Published in Northwest Science.