HONOLULU (AP) — Lehua Island in Hawaii has been declared free of invasive rats after decades of eradication efforts.
The state Department of Natural Resources made the declaration on Wednesday.
Officials monitoring the small, uninhabited island off of Kauai’s western coast said getting rid of the rats creates new possibilities for the birds on the island, which has one of the most diverse seabird colonies in the state, Hawaii News Now reported.
At least 17 seabird species, many of which are threatened, live on Lehua Island.
Research has shown that rat-free islands with thriving seabird colonies have healthier marine systems, Hawaii News Now reported. The rats ate seabird chicks and eggs, hurting bird populations.
“The results are all around us,” said Mele Khalsa from the Island Conservation group. “The birds are happy. They are not being eaten by rats anymore and now we can move onto other things.”
Officials got rid of rabbits on the island in 2006.
Some of the most dominant birds Lehua Island include red-footed boobies and Laysan albatross.