Press Release from The Partnership to Protect Hawaii’s Native Species
The Partnership to Protect Hawaii’s Native Species (PPHNS) held a meeting at the Kulana ‘Oiwi Center in Kaunakakai to update the Molokai community on the results of a rat eradication project conducted approximately two years ago on the island of Mōkapu, an uninhabited island near the north shore of Molokai.
Mōkapu was selected for several reasons, including the evidence of the devastating effects rats have had on the native plants and birds on the island. Twenty-nine species of native plants were vulnerable to extinction from the island without the eradication efforts. Although over 50 islands around the world have used the aerial application of rodenticide to eradicate rodents, this was the first such project in which an island-wide aerial application was conducted with the milder rodenticide diphacinone. The members of the project team wanted to update the Molokai community and thank them for their support of the project.
Over the last two years, biologists have monitored the effects of the project and were pleased to report to the community that Mōkapu continues to be rat free since the application. More importantly, the native plants and birds have shown remarkable recovery due to the eradication of rats. Biologists will continue to monitor the native species on Mōkapu to document recovery following the rat eradication.
Because of the inaccessibility of Mōkapu and the acreage that needed treatment, the project team chose aerial application of pellets from a helicopter. A proven system – utilizing a Global Positioning System – was used to efficiently and accurately distribute the pellets throughout the island.
The eradication of rats from Mōkapu in February 2008 was a major step forward for island conservation in Hawaii. The long-term goal of the PPHNS is to prepare a statewide programmatic environmental document that will consider the various methods of rodent application from bait boxes to aerial application, as well as evaluate various rodenticides for conservation purposes. The Mōkapu project utilized diphacinone rodenticide pellets.
Diphacinone is an anti-coagulant historically prescribed as a blood thinner to treat a variety of medical conditions such as blood clots. It has been approved by the State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to eradicate or control rodents for conservation purposes.
The Molokai presentation was also used to launch the Partnership to Protect Hawaii’s Native Species website, and community members who attended the meeting were the first to view it.
The site can be found at http://www.removeratsrestorehawaii.org.
The website is simple and easy to navigate and includes information for everyone, from those new to the project to scientists looking for project updates. It includes information about the effect of rodents on native species, cultural practices, agriculture, and human health.
At the meeting the project team expressed their appreciation to the community. Project participant Christy Martin of the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species at the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) said, “This project shows what can be done when government agencies charged with environmental protection and restoration work closely with a community. Native species on Mokapu are thriving because of the help we received from the native Hawaiian leaders, environmentalists and others in the Molokai community. We came back to share the story and relay our thanks.”
About the Partnership to Protect Hawaii’s Native Species
The Partnership to Protect Hawaii’s Native Species is a collaborative effort by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii, and U.S. Army Environmental Center to control and eradicate invasive rodent species from the Hawaiian Islands.