10 November 2013

Penguin Island reopens after rat baiting success

AUSTRALIA - Penguin Island, home to Western Australia’s largest little penguin colony, has reopened to visitors after a successful baiting program targeting destructive black rats.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said up to 5,000 rats had been eliminated from the island, increasing the chances of penguins and other seabirds breeding successfully.

“The baiting program, which began in January this year, was necessary because introduced rats had become established on Penguin Island and were attacking birds, eggs, penguin chicks and native skinks,” Mr Jacob said.

“I am pleased to say that since mid-May, only two rats have been detected on motion sensor cameras and baits have been laid to destroy these final few animals.

“This is a dramatic reduction in rat numbers and it is hoped that after two years without a sighting we will be able to declare Penguin Island rat-free.”

The Minister said important new biosecurity measures were being introduced to prevent a reinfestation of rats on the island, such as a "take your rubbish with you" policy, which will remove a potential food source for the rodents. To help visitors with this new measure, free rubbish bags would be available at the ferry boarding point and the island's visitor centre.

“There will be bait stations aboard boats and ferries that operate from the island and a public awareness program for those who bring their own vessels.

“In addition there will be inspections of all materials brought to the island and checks of tour vessels will be conducted before the opening of each new visitor season.”

About 1,200 little penguins live on the island, as well as seabirds such as Caspian terns, bridled terns and pelicans.

Penguin Island reopens after rat baiting success [media statement], 7 November 2013, Hon Albert Jacob

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