Saturday, 25 April 2015

Help us create a safer home for seabirds on the Shiant Isles.

JUST 51 PENCE CAN MAKE A SQUARE METRE SAFER FOR SEABIRDS ON THE SHIANTS, in total there are 2,200,000 square metres to be cleared of rats.
Puffins and Razorbills Shiants - RSPB image J Richardson

Situated in the stormy seas off the Outer Hebrides, the Shiants are a noisy, sea-salty breeding ground in the Atlantic where seabirds raise their young.
The isles are already home to 10 per cent of the UK population of puffins, and seven per cent of our razorbills.
But there could be many, many more.
Year after year, significant numbers of Shiant Isle seabird chicks are killed by non-native black rats.
Black rat
But with your help we'll remove the rats for good so that the full potential of the islands' seabirds can finally be realised.

What we'll be doing

With your support we can restore and secure seabird populations on these amazing islands.
We aim to remove the rats in time for the summer 2016 seabird breeding season and every one after that. 
The entire project will cost £1.13 million and we have secured 70 per cent of the total cost from the EU LIFE+ fund, Scottish Natural Heritage and major private donors to the RSPB.
But your support is critical to get us over the finish line. We need £345,000 before 18 May this year to get to work.
Fortunately, we don't have to imagine the impact of removing rats from the isles as we've witnessed similar projects around the UK and the globe. Likely consequences include:
A dramatic benefit to seabird populations. The populations of puffins, razorbills, guillemots and shags - species struggling around the UK - will raise more chicks. Removing the rats from the island of Lundy, off the coast of Devon, saw Manx shearwater numbers increase tenfold and there are now four times as many puffins.
The return of Manx shearwaters to the islands. We've found Manx shearwater bones on the Shiants, which strongly indicates that they once bred there. But they simply won't return as long as the rats remain. We have to remove the rats now, or Manx shearwaters and other species like storm petrels will never come back.
A significant boost for the islands' small populations of other ground-nesting birds. Twites, oystercatchers, skylarks, wheatears and curlews should also benefit once they can breed safe from rat predation. Your donation will help secure their future.
After studying all the options, specialists concluded that the only safe and effective way to eradicate the rats is to lay poison in bait stations around the islands for them to consume. The operation will take place in winter, when the rat population is at its lowest and most of the seabirds are away feeding at sea. Careful measures will be used to reduce the risks to all the other wildlife on the islands.
By next summer the rats should be gone. But our project will continue for another three years, doing all we can to stop rats returning; monitoring how the seabirds fare in their safer island home and encouraging species like Manx shearwaters to return.
Can you help us save the seabirds of the Shiant Isles?

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