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Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 19:12 GMT
Puffin Island seeks European protection
Puffin Island
Puffin Island has been hit by rat infestations
An application to make Puffin Island a special site of European importance has been given the backing of councillors in north Wales.

If the plan went ahead, the island - where various species of bird on the island including the puffin - would achieve the status of a special protection area.

The island in the Menai Straits near Anglesey is already listed as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Now the Countryside Council for Wales has recommended that it gets the status of a Special Protection Area as part of the Natura 2000 network.

A special operation was mounted on Puffin Island last year to rid it of an infestation of rats, which was endangering the bird habitat, including the puffins which gave it its name.

Infestation

Wildlife experts mounted an exercise to rid the tiny island of rodents, which preyed on the birdlife.

It involved enlisting the help of the RAF who airlifted two-and-a-half tonnes of poison-treated wheat.

Monitoring revealed no further signs of the rats, which began infesting the island more than 100 years ago, eating eggs and wiping out ground-nesting birds, including nearly all its colony of 2,000 puffins.

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