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Protecting Lehua's Ecosystem

Information about Hawaii's efforts to protect the ecosystem, birdlife, and plantlife of Lehua Island.

Lehua is the home of one of the most diverse seabird colonies in the main Hawaiian Islands and several native or endemic plants that are unique to the island.

Several efforts have been undertaken over the years to protect the island's ecosystem, plantlife, and birdlife by removing the rabbits and rats that have damaged Lehua in the past. Once it can finally be verified that all of the rats and rabbits have been removed, restoration of several native plant and invertebrate species will begin. Eradication of rats and rabbits from Lehua Island should increase the populations of threatened and endangered seabirds and give all native species a better chance of survival.

Clearing the Rabbits From Lehua
In 2005 and 2006, all of the rabbits were removed from Lehua island through intensive hunting efforts.

Clearing the Rats From Lehua
It has proved to be more difficult to remove all of the rats from Lehua. Several efforts in the past have proved unsuccessful, and in in March of 2017 it was proposed that perhaps the only way to creating a truly predator-free and fully protected refuge for the threatened and endangered Hawaiian species on Lehua was to apply a rodenticide by helicopter and by hand to finally kill all of the island's rats. It was felt this step was necessary because Lehua's rats were eating native seabird eggs, chicks, and adults and consuming and destroying the island’s native plants and seeds. If left unchecked the population could explode because female rats can have as many as 8-12 offspring every 30 days.

Lehua Island Document Archive
Web site established as a repository of source documents related to the aerial drop of diphacinone on Lehua Island in August and September of 2017

Articles About Eradicating Lehua's Rats
- 2017 August: About the Poison Drop on Lehua
- 2017 March: Proposed Lehua Rat Eradication
- 2015 September: Partnership of Orgs to Survey Rats on Lehua Island
- 2010 Spring:: Eradicating Lehua's Rats Using GIS and GPS (PDF)
- 2008 July: Lehua Restoration Plan Available for Public View
- 2008 Environmental Assessment for Lehua Ecosystem Restoration - 2005 Environmental Assessment for Lehua Ecosystgem Restoration (PDF)

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