When the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge’s plan to eradicate the rodent population on Rat Island, an uninhabited 6,861-acre island in the Aleutians, was made public, it received irate e-mails from across the globe. Writers especially did not like the idea of using rat poison and many suggested alternative methods.
One person, a member of a dachshund club, noted that terriers are effective rat hunters and suggested that the refuge import dachshunds and other terriers, along with their owners, to hunt down the rodents on the island.
Parkan said that a problem with most of the suggested alternatives to poisoning is logistical. Transporting just a few scientists to an island in such a remote and stormy region is difficult, let alone a group of dachshunds and their owners.
The bigger problem has to do with the rat’s most distinctive trait – its remarkable capacity to adapt and repopulate when it is given a chance.
“You’d never get them all,” said Benson. “The deal with rats is that you have to get every single one, or the population will explode in just a few years. Predators, hunting, birth control, none of these work.”
“We’ve got to get all the rats dead in one operation,” Benson said.