State dispenses third round of rodenticide on Lehua Island with test results pending

Photo: DLNR

The state, in partnership with the group Island Conservation, dropped a third and final round of rodenticide on Lehua Island Tuesday.

It’s the latest step in a project by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate invasive rats by dropping bait pellets containing diphacinone on the island.

Tuesday’s application had been postponed from its original Sept. 9 date after pictures and video of dead fish and green powder made the rounds through social media.

The images prompted project partners to deploy teams, which collected 45 dead fish, which appear to be mullets, and two dead birds, which appear to be juvenile brown boobies, from the island’s north, or crater end.

According to DLNR, tests are currently underway to determine if the poison is responsible for the death of those animals, and results won’t likely be available until November.

However, officials say, it is strongly believed the rodenticide did not cause their deaths.

“Despite these short-term risks, we’re very confident that the long-term conservation benefits for the seabirds on Lehua Island are far outweighing any potential risks,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case.

The island off Niihau is one of the largest and most diverse seabird colonies in the main Hawaiian Islands with 17 seabird species and 25 native plants.

DLNR says invasive rats threaten that ecosystem by eating the seabirds and destroying native plants.

Click here for more information on the Lehua Island Restoration Project.

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