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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 07:20 GMT
Protests at island's black rat cull
Black rats
The rats are being culled to save rare birds say experts
A protest is being staged against a cull of black rats on Lundy Island.

Experts claimed the move was necessary to save the island's population of rare seabirds, but animal welfare groups disagree.

Lundy, a granite outcrop in the Bristol Channel, is three-and-a-half miles long and half-a-mile wide. The island is a designated site of special scientific interest.

Four conservation organisations, including English Nature and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), began a cull of thousands of black rats last November.

The rodents were running wild on the island after arriving on boats.

Experts claimed that as many as 40,000 of the non-native vermin were feeding on birds' eggs and chicks - and the puffin and the Manx shearwater were rapidly being brought to the point of extinction.

'Ecological harmony'

The number of puffins on the island has fallen from 3,500 pairs in 1939 to fewer than 10 pairs in 2000.

But Animal Aid claims that neither puffins nor shearwaters are endangered species worldwide and Lundy is home to one of the only remaining colonies of black rats.

Speaking in December 2002, campaigns officer Becky Lilly said: "This is an attempt to restore ecological harmony through wholesale slaughter.

"It is not the way forward - in this case more controls on commercial fishing, management of pollution and protection of breeding sites would help boost the seabird population."

Protesters planned a demonstration in Exeter on Tuesday, in a bid to stop the cull before it is completed at Easter.

Puffins win island rat war
18 Sep 02 |  Scotland

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