Rat Eradication on Four Uninhabited Aleutian Islands

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for rat eradication on four uninhabited Aleutian Islands, including Great Sitkin, Amchitka, Kiska and Attu Islands. 

Learn more and provide your input: Rat Eradication on Four Uninhabited Aleutian Islands


A Refuge for People and Wildlife

Since time immemorial, the 1,000-mile long Aleutian Archipelago has been stewarded by the Unangan people. Today, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge shares in the stewardship of these storied, volcanic islands where nearly forty-million seabirds nest every summer. The Refuge was established to conserve these seabirds as well as marine mammals, other migratory birds, and the marine resources on which they rely for generations to come.

Islands Are Biodiversity Hotspots

Although islands account for just 6% of the world's landmass, they are home to approximately 20% of the world's bird and plant species. Since the 1700s, shipwrecks, trappers, homesteaders, military, and other government agencies have accidentally and intentionally brought new species to the Aleutian Islands. Islands are particularly important to seabirds for nesting habitat. Seabirds evolved to nest in burrows, on the ground, or on cliff ledges on the treeless Aleutian Islands that were once free of predators. Without natural instincts to escape predation, many island bird populations plummeted or were entirely extirpated by rats and foxes that feed on adult birds and chicks. Seabirds are one of the most threatened bird groups on the planet, with approximately 30% at risk of extinction from invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
With native species driven out, the entire natural ecological order on the islands from nutrients, to plants, and birds is disrupted. 

Tufted puffin, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
Tufted Puffin Nest

A Legacy of Restoration

Restoring island ecosystems by removing invasive species is key for protecting at-risk seabird species and the habitats they rely on. Together with partners, the Refuge has worked for over 60 years to return natural balance to the Aleutians by removing the nonnative predators. Since the 1940s, nearly 50 islands representing more than 1 million acres have been restored through invasive species management. In the absence of introduced predators, populations of nesting birds have increased five to ten times. Yet, rats remain on 12 Refuge islands where they continue to pose threats to native wildlife.

Rat Spills are Forever

Every year, nearly 3,000 ships pass through the islands on the great circle shipping route between Asia and North America. With an average of two shipping mishaps a year, the Aleutians are at risk of "rat spills" from shipwrecks. Rat spills can be far worse than oil spills. Oil degrades over time while rats multiply, and multiply... and multiply! The Refuge has prepared by assembling shipwreck response kits and training rat spill responders.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's research vessel Tiĝlax̂, seen from a cliff in Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge through a seabird flock.

Hope For the Future

Rodents have been successfully removed from over 400 islands worldwide - including Hawadax Island in 2008. The explosive recovery of bird populations and other organisms occurred in the absence of rats.  The Refuge and its partners are committed to applying lessons learned from these successes to safeguard Refuge islands and create a Rat Free Aleutians!

The mission of Rat Free Aleutians is to collaboratively prevent new introductions of non-native rats and remove existing infestations in order to steward native island ecosystems for generations to come.


A mosaic of coordinated actions.

  • Biosecurity: The Refuge and partners developed and implement strict protocols aimed at preventing unintentional releases of invasive species.
  • Restoration: The Refuge and partners are currently in the process of assessing the possibility of rat removal on 4 Aleutian Islands – Great Sitkin, Amchitka, Kiska, and Attu. Learn more and provide your input on the Rat Eradication on Four Uninhabited Aleutian Islands EIS
  • Communication: Engage with stakeholders to gain local knowledge, gather input, provide updates, and more, including participating in StopRats.org activities.
  • Monitoring & Rapid Response: Planned rapid response mechanisms are in place should a rat spill, or other invasive species infestation occur.


Rapid Response Plan for Invasive Rodents in Alaska (PDF)

This document outlines rapid response actions that should be taken to a rodent sighting in a previously rodent-free area or in the event of a potential ship grounding and subsequent rat spill. Eradication of established breeding populations of rodents is a much larger and longer-term effort;...


woman with dark hair smiles in front of green trees
Invasive Species Outreach & Education Biologist
National Wildlife Refuge System,
Ecological Services,
Fish and Aquatic Conservation
Invasive Species,


A pair of Horned Puffins with brightly colored yellow and red bills perches on a cliff near their nest. The cliff in the background is blurred.
The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge stretches from the spectacular volcanic islands of the Aleutian chain to the Inside Passage, and north to the Chukchi Sea, providing essential habitat for marine mammals and some 40 million seabirds, representing more than 30 species.


A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 570 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
A large, wet, furry brown rodent standing on grassy land next to a body of water
Invasive species are non-native plants, animals and other living organisms that thrive in areas where they don’t naturally live and cause (or are likely to cause) economic or environmental harm, or harm to human, animal or plant health. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats,...