Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Wales
Front Page 
World 
UK 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


BBC Wales' Caroline Evans
"The island is home to some important breeds of birds"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 January, 2000, 17:07 GMT
'Pied Piper' attack on island's rats

Ramsey rat The RSPB plans to eradicate the rats


A battle is beginning off the Welsh coastline to save a number of important species of birds from an invasion of rats.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - which runs the island of Ramsey off the Pembrokeshire coast - has brought in the modern-day equivalent of the Pied Piper to get rid of the rats.

The 640-acre island is home to some important breeds of birds like the Manx shearwater, razorbills and guillemots.


Rat The rats are an alien species
But the small populations are under attack from rats and the bird charity has brought in expertise from New Zealand to clear the rodents.

The RSPB's Pembroke Warden Ian Bullock said a lot was at stake.

"The island, like all islands, is very special," he said.

"It's got its own population of birds, a very special population of rare plants and a number of rare ground-nesting birds which are all at risk from the rat population."

Now the RSPB intends to bring the two centuries of invasion by the rodents to an end and has commissioned world experts in the eradication of alien species to clear the rats.

'Rat restaurant'

For the last four months the island has been strewn with plastic tubes half a metre long - the key to a system of baiting which has been used around the world by the New Zealand team brought in by the charity.

"We're going to put four pellets (of rat poison) in each bait station and, hopefully, the rats will come along and take part in what's probably the biggest rat restaurant in the UK," said the island's bird warden, Richard Humpidge.

The experts say they will see the first signs of whether the operation has been a success in three months time.

But it will take another two years before they know for certain that the island is rat-free.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wales stories