By Andy Hargreaves

Seabird Recovery Project Team

Seabird Recovery Project Team

Managers from the Scilly Seabird Recovery Project have been advising the owners of a group of Hebridean islands over rat eradication. The team has just returned from the privately owned Shints Islands.

Next January, St Agnes and Gugh will have been rat-free for two years, following a successful community-backed programme of bating.

In Scilly the rodents have been wiped out to encourage breeding of rare storm petrel and Manx shearwater because the rats eat the threatened birds’ eggs.

In the Hebrides, bones found in cairns indicate that there was once a healthy Manx shearwater population and its hoped that, by following Scilly’s example, the birds will breed there again.

Project manager Jaclyn Pearson says there are some similarities between these three Scottish islands and Scilly. They cover the same land area as St Agnes and Gugh and a rock causeway connects two of the islands.

Jaclyn advised the Scottish team to follow the Scilly pattern of work to achieve rat-free status, using ground-based baiting in a grid pattern.

In the future, she expects that the Scilly team will be in demand from other proposed rat-cull schemes around the UK as partners like the RSPB want to tap into our experience rather than rely on overseas consultants.