The normally scenic blue skies over a tiny island paradise will soon be darkened as helecopters pour 42 tons of rat poisoning over the land. The reason for all this? Well, Lord Howe Island, 800 miles off the coast of Sydney and considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, has a rat problem. Island officials are willing to go to great lengths to exterminate the invasive pests, while hoping to avoid any collateral wildlife deaths. Seem a bit drastic? "There is no other solution to eliminate the rats once and for all," says the island's mayor.The rats are thought to have been introduced to the island by boat in 1918, and have since multiplied to unmanageable numbers. According to the WWF, the rats are responsible for destroying five species of birds--making them the biggest threat to wildlife on the island.
For the mayor of the tiny island, Stephen Willi, it's time that the rat problem be addressed:
This is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so we need a detailed plan and result.
A similar technique to killing rats on a large scale has been tried before, but never in such a populated region. Helicopters will drop the poison over unpopulated areas, while in developed regions, it will be dispersed by hand, according to a report in the BBC Brasil.
To avoid the poison being ingested by wildlife the measure is ultimately aiming to protect, native birds will be captured and caged--along with dogs, cats, cows, and chickens--and transported off the island for a period of 100 days. Children, during the poisoning, will have to be closely monitored by their parents, officials say.
The mass rat extermination is scheduled to be carried out in August 2012.