Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue

Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue

William Stolzenburg

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1608193322

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Rat Island, midway between Alaska and Siberia, was once a sanctuary for seabirds, before shipwrecked rats came ashore and savaged them. It's a familiar scenario repeating across the oceans of the world: innocent island species under attack by foreign predators, and, lately, defended by their would-be rescuers employing radical measures.

Peopled with unforgettable characters and propelled by perilous adventure, Rat Island reveals a little-known and hotly debated practice of killing for conservation.

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jury-rigged lifeboat from sinking, the survivors of the Bering expedition at last reached the familiar shores of Kamchatka. It had been a titanic feat of oceanic exploration and human endurance. But with the crew’s escape came doom for the natives they had left behind. With news from Steller and his shipmates of the Bering Island menagerie—some of them wearing coats of fur worth more than the average Cossack’s yearly wage—fleets of Russian fur hunters were soon racing eastward for their fortunes

butterfly. He grew bolder, climbing pant legs, perching on shoulders, sometimes capping his ascent with an attempted cranial copulation. The amorous kakapo of Sinbad Gully was baldly hinting that these booming birds the men had been chasing through the hills were the lotharios of kakapo society. And that anything coming close to their bowls was to be considered fair game for either fighting or romancing. And that Richard Henry, once again, had been right after all. Henry in his years of

butterfly. He grew bolder, climbing pant legs, perching on shoulders, sometimes capping his ascent with an attempted cranial copulation. The amorous kakapo of Sinbad Gully was baldly hinting that these booming birds the men had been chasing through the hills were the lotharios of kakapo society. And that anything coming close to their bowls was to be considered fair game for either fighting or romancing. And that Richard Henry, once again, had been right after all. Henry in his years of

By the time Bill Wood arrived in Baja, feral cats of the world had extinguished at least thirty-three bird species and decimated uncounted others. And birds were only the more obvious victims. In the era of the feral cat the Mexican islands had thus far lost more than ten of their unique rodents. Distinctive forms of lizards and snakes had all grown scarce or disappeared with the coming of the cat. This was the buzzsaw of biological diversity that Wood was hired to destroy. For Wood the

exclusive few, and that standing carried special degrees of promise and peril. One hazard came self-inflicted. A bird of habit, the least auklet faithfully staked out its breeding lots on slopes of bare boulders, seeking clear views of airborne predators and proper stages for its courting dances. It shunned encroaching plants and obscuring greenery, ironically of the very sort that its own guano tended to fertilize. There would naturally come a time when, with boulder fields fading beneath the

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