Park Restoration Project Results
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725
Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau, announces that scientists are finding substantial recovery of rare seabirds and other native wildlife on Anacapa Island following the eradication of rats. Superintendent Galipeau comments, “This project is critical to protecting and restoring the rare and unique wildlife on Anacapa. The National Park Service is dedicated to ensuring a diverse naturally functioning island ecosystem.”
Through a partnership, the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Island Conservation and Ecology Group have worked to restore the island resources on Anacapa by removing introduced rats. The signs of recovery are already evident. Mouse populations are returning to normal and they are breeding abundantly in the wild. Juvenile side-blotched lizards and slender salamanders are thriving in the absence of rats.
Scientists are already seeing a dramatic and positive response by Xantus’s Murrelets, a rare seabird that nests on the island. Thomas Hamer, of Hamer Environmental, reports, “We have detected increases in the number of birds visiting nesting colonies ranging from 58% to more than two times higher when compared to the number of detections that we recorded per night in any of the previous years.” Nest surveys by researchers from Humboldt State University have found 14 murrelet nests, including the first documented on Cat Rock since 1927.
Non-native rats are responsible for an estimated 40-60% of bird and reptile extinctions in the world. This project is modeled after successful rat eradications from nearly 100 islands worldwide that have resulted in considerable recovery of seabirds.
Numerous environmental groups have endorsed the project including the American Bird Conservancy, Pacific Seabird Group, California Audubon Society, Endangered Species Recovery Council, Audubon Living Oceans, and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures. American Bird Conservancy President, George H. Fenwick, stated, “The Anacapa Island project is precisely the type of well-designed, extensively researched, and responsibly implemented program that the American Bird Conservancy supports and encourages. The long-term benefits of rat eradication on Anacapa Island are enormous for the conservation of one of North America’s most distinctive ecosystems.”