Biological Opinion on Rat Eradication, Rat Island, Alaska
NOAA Fisheries prepared this Opinion to address impacts to the Steller sea lion resulting from two federal actions: the issuance of an IHA by NOAA Fisheries and rat eradication on Rat Island by the FWS. NMFS Consultation Number: AKR-2008-5708
Rats were first introduced to Alaska over 200 years ago at Rat Island. Prior to this introduction, the island likely supported significant populations of breeding seabirds and other ground-nesting birds which evolved in the absence of mammalian predators. Since their introduction, rats and foxes have extirpated breeding seabirds and had detrimental impacts on vegetation and intertidal life on the island. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, removed foxes from Rat Island in 1984. Now, working with others, the Service proposes to eradicate rats from the island using removal techniques implemented successfully on islands elsewhere in the United States and globally. The endangered western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) can be found hauled out on Rat Island and breeds on the small islet off the southeast corner of Rat Island known as Ayugadak Point (designated critical habitat).
Action Agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service