Regulations now in effect
September 15, 2007
As the state with the most coastline in the United States, Alaska is particularly vulnerable to this invasive species coming in to our ports and harbors, according to Ron Clarke, Assistant Director of Wildlife Conservation at ADF&G. "More than 100 species of ground-nesting birds used for subsistence in Alaska may be vulnerable to rats, if rats colonize their areas," Clarke said. "Norway rats have been found on 21 large islands in Alaska; and a dozen communities in the state, from Ketchikan to Nome, are known to have breeding colonies. Without control and prevention actions, rats in these areas can be easily spread to other parts of the state."
"Rats have already done terrible damage to wild birds and other species on islands in the state," he said. "For example, hundreds of dead auklets have been found in rat dens on Kiska Island in the western Aleutians, which used to be rat-free."
The regulations that became effective on September 13, 2007, essentially require boaters, shippers, and others moving containers that may contain rats to be vigilant in checking for rats and in taking action to control or eradicate rats when they are found. Enforcement will focus largely on prevention of rat spills (releases), assistance to shippers and others, and voluntary compliance.
ADF&G staff has been working with other state and federal agencies on steps to stop invasive rodents from entering Alaska and spreading around the state, to clean up rat spills, and to restore and protect Alaska's native species and habitats. "Taking these steps will require significant multi-agency coordination, and help from both Alaskans and those traveling to Alaska, particularly vessel operators, fishermen, and cargo shippers," said Clarke.
In October, ADF&G will issue its rat control plan, and convene a new interagency group, the Alaska Rodent Action Team (AKRAT), to assist in necessary cross-agency efforts to address rat prevention and control in Alaska. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations will hold training for 'rat spill responders.' Meanwhile, under contract with ADF&G, the University of Alaska's Sea Grant program is developing training materials to assist harbormasters and other waterfront facility managers in preventing rat infestations and their spread.
Information and rat eradication
kits are available to the public on a website sponsored by an
informal multi-partner cooperative group, the Rat Outreach Group,
at www.stoprats.org ,
and on the ADF&G invasive species website, at http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/special/invasive/invasive.php.
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