The Birds Are Back! ‘Rat Island’ Renamed

tufted puffinsWhen a ship arrived at an island in the North Pacific in the late 1700s, it brought more than cargo and splintered wood. It brought rats.

These invasive mammals thrived on the island, eating up local birds and their eggs. As a result, the spot took on the moniker “Rat Island,” and it was known for its eerie silence and lack of birdsong.

In 2008, a team of scientists and environmentalists killed the rats with rodenticides. Since then, birds have returned to the island in numbers large enough to surprise experts, according to a statement from Island Conservation, one of the groups involved in exterminating the rats, along with help from The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The island has since been renamed Hawadax Island, according to the statement. The name was chosen by the native Unangan (Aleut) community and translates to “those two over there,” referring to the island’s two knolls. While nobody currently lives on Hawadax, Unangan people have lived or visited the island for millennia.

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