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Penguin Island reopens after rat baiting success

Little penguin at Penguin Island
Little penguin at Penguin Island DPaW

Penguin Island, home to Western Australia’s largest colony of little penguins, has reopened to tourists after a successful baiting program targeting destructive black rats.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said up to 5,000 rats had been eliminated from the island, increasing the chances of penguins and other seabirds breeding successfully.

“The baiting program, which began in January this year, was necessary because introduced rats had become established on Penguin Island and were attacking birds, eggs, penguin chicks and native skinks,” Mr Jacob said.

“I am pleased to say that since mid-May, only two rats have been detected on motion sensor cameras and baits have been laid to destroy these final few animals.

“This is a dramatic reduction in rat numbers and it is hoped that after two years without a sighting we will be able to declare Penguin Island rat-free.”

The Minister said important new biosecurity measures were being introduced to prevent a reinfestation of rats on the island.

“There is a ‘take your rubbish with you’ policy in place for Penguin Island, which will remove a potential food source for animals such as rats,” he said.

“People enjoy picnicking on the island so to assist visitors with this new measure, free rubbish bags will be available at Mersey Point before boarding the ferry, or at the island’s visitor centre.

“There will be bait stations aboard boats and ferries that operate from the island and a public awareness program for those who bring their own vessels.

“In addition there will be inspections of all materials brought to the island and checks of tour vessels will be conducted before the opening of each new visitor season.”

Improvements to visitor facilities at the island include construction of a new retaining wall and decking at the picnic area.

Surf Life Saving WA will conduct patrols at Mersey Point on weekends starting from early December, then every day during the school holidays. In addition, patrols will be provided over the Labour Day and Easter long weekends in 2014.

MEDIA CONTACT: Minister’s office 6552 5800

Last modified on Thursday, 07 November 2013 16:03