Saturday, October 22, 2005
Two years ago, in an attempt to protect rare seabirds, workers culled 40,000 Norway rats and black rats (Rattus norvegicus and Rattus rattus) on the UK's Lundy Island. No happy ending here though - as reported by The Times, removing the rats has led to a population explosion among the island's rabbits. With virtually no predators left to keep them in check, the rabbits are multiplying like crazy. Lundy Island's vegetation is suffering, with parts of the island now so bare that the soil is eroding. Fencing in areas and culling (of rabbits) has been somewhat helpful, but the island's warden admits that things have become "complicated." Animal rights' groups are claiming the rabbit problem is evidence that the island should have been left alone, but keep in mind that the rabbits themselves were also introduced. Maybe the island would be better off without them as well.
Tip o' the virtual hat to Habitat for posting about this story.
A further complication is that the puffins, for which Lundy is famous, use rabbit burrows as nesting holes. If all the rabbits were exterminated, it could create a shortage of safe nest sites.
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