Just one tiny misstep, one goof, and years of planning a $3 million wildlife project will be worthless.
Last week, a crew of 18 left Homer aboard the crabber Reliance, bound for little Rat Island at the end of the Aleutian chain on a mission of devastation.
By coating the island with tiny toxic pellets in an operation that begins this week, scientists hope to exterminate Norway rats, which jumped off a shipwrecked Japanese ship in the 18th century and colonized the 6,871-acre island 1,700 miles from Anchorage.
"We're planning for success," said Steve Ebbert, the biologist and invasive species project leader at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge who's coordinating the rat attack. "Weather is a big risk. We need a string of good days."
Rats have been removed from some 300 islands around the world, including islands in New Zealand and atolls near Hawaii. But it will be the first time rats have been removed from an Alaska island -- if Ebbert and his team succeed.
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