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Island Restoration

Island ecosystems are especially vulnerable:


  • Limited number of native species of plants and animals - what can swim, float or fly to the island
  • Often unique species or subspecies - different from mainland cousins
  • Native island species may be unable to adapt soon enough to predation and other habitat changes caused by an invader



While native species inhabiting this far flung maritime refuge benefits from a largely intact ecosystem, there are threats to its integrity. Some of those landscape-scale stressors include:
• Climate Variability and Change
• Commercial Fishing
• Invasive and Introduced Species
• Marine Vessel Traffic
• Ocean Acidification
• Contaminants and Pollutants

Refuge staff are actively working with partners on two of these threats: invasive species removal and cleaning up contamination at formerly used defense sites.

Arctic and red foxes - pushed the Aleutian cackling goose to the brink of extinction. Introduced foxes were the most widespread invasive mammal on the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the first targeted for eradication. Since 1949, the refuge has removed foxes from over 40 islands reclaiming more than a million acres of habitat. The long-endangered Aleutian cackling goose recovered from fox predation and was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2001. Populations of nesting seabirds and other native birds are also rebounding on fox-free islands. 

Norway rats, black rats, house and deer mice - can prey on chicks, eggs, and adult birds, and may carry diseases harmful to humans. The tribal government and residents of the Pribilof Islands have joined the refuge in efforts to keep rats off their islands. The Pribilofs are sometimes called the Galapagos of the North because they shelter some of the largest seabird and fur seal colonies in the world. Working with partners, we completed an island-wide Norway rat eradication in 2008 on 6,861 acre Hawadax Island (formerly Rat Island) in the Aleutians. When ships go aground, rats flee just as the proverb claims. The Refuge staff works with the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies to reduce the threat of "rat spills" to sensitive areas.

Hoofed animals (reindeer, caribou, cattle, horses) -change the native plant communities and caused severe soil erosion that in turn affects the breeding success of native wildlife. Reindeer and cattle have been removed from some refuge islands. Hoofed animals remain on one refuge island and 9 other islands that contain both private and refuge lands.

Learn more

Caribou Control on Kagalaska Island

Cattle Islands

Hawadax Island (formerly Rat Island)

Rat Prevention Tips

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2015
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