Seabird Restoration on Hawadax Island

The goal of the restoration project was to restore the native ecosystem of Hawadax Island by removing introduced, invasive rats.

For centuries, Hawadax Island in the western Aleutian Islands was known as Rat Island due to the presence of invasive Norway Rats that dominated the island and destroyed native seabird populations. But, following removal of invasive rats in a 2008 restoration campaign, biologists have documented that seabirds are returning to the island.

Red Faced CormorantsIntroduced non-native rats have been responsible for about half of all recorded bird extinctions globally. On Hawadax Island, invasive rats eliminated virtually all seabirds and many other birds. There are no native land mammals on Hawadax Island, so the birds never developed natural defenses against these aggressive predators. Additionally, on the treeless Aleutians, birds must nest on the ground, in burrows or on cliffs - making their nesting sites easily accessible to invasive rats.

The successful restoration of the nearly 7,000-acre Hawadax Island was the third-largest island rat eradication ever attempted and the first of its kind in the Aleutian archipelago.