Scaling down (cliffs) to meet the challenge: the Shiants’ black rat eradication

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ISBN: 978-2-8317-1961-0
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Scaling down (cliffs) to meet the challenge: the Shiants’ black rat eradication

A successful ground-based eradication of black rats (Rattus rattus) was undertaken on the remote, uninhabited Shiant Isles of north-west Scotland over winter (14 October–28 March) 2015–16. The rat eradication was carried out as part of the Shiants Seabird Recovery Project, which aims to secure long-term breeding habitat for protected seabirds and to attract European storm petrels and Manx shearwaters to nest on the Shiants. Throughout the eradication operation, teams were stationed on two of the three main Shiant islands (Eilean an Tighe, Eilean Mhuire), with access to the third (Garbh Eilean) via a boulder causeway from Eilean an Tighe. Bait (Contrac® blocks containing the anticoagulant bromadiolone 0.005% w/w), was deployed in a grid of 1,183 bait stations covering all areas of the islands and sea stacks. Bait stations were set 50 m apart, with intervals reduced to 25 m in coastal areas of predicted high rat density. Difficult areas were accessed by boat and cliff s of ~120 m in height were accessed by abseiling down ropes made safe using either bolted anchors or ground stakes. The team of staff and volunteers worked through difficult conditions, deploying bait and monitoring intensively for any surviving rats using a combination of tools. The islands were declared rat free in March 2018. This ambitious and challenging project has greatly enhanced UK capacity in rodent eradications for the purposes of conservation.

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