Puffins among birds to thrive on island after rat cull

  • ITV News video report by Wales & West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Puffins have been saved from extinction on an island off the coast of Devon 13 years after rats were wiped out.

A study led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reveals the total seabird numbers on Lundy have now tripled to more than 21,000 birds.

This growth over the past 15 years resulted after the island was declared rat free in 2006.

Puffins have been saved from extinction on Lundy.

In 2002, Natural England, the Landmark Trust, the National Trust and RSPB joined forces to eradicate the rats, which are not native to Britain but were imported unwittingly on ships visiting the island or from shipwrecks.

Rats needed to be eradicated, says the RSPB, after evidence from other seabird islands showed the biggest threat to nesting birds such as Manx shearwaters and puffins on Lundy were rats eating their eggs and chicks.

Rats were wiped out on Lundy more than a decade ago.

Tim Frayling, Senior Specialist in Ornithology at Natural England, said: “Lundy Island is home to one of the most important seabird colonies in England and it is fantastic to see such a revival in numbers.

“The current challenges facing wildlife are huge, but this remarkable increase demonstrates that wildlife recovery can be achieved by partnerships and local communities working together. In this case by combining their expertise to create a safer breeding environment for the fantastic diversity of breeding seabirds that help make Lundy so special.”

Total seabird numbers on Lundy have now tripled to more than 21,000 birds.

Rosie Hails, Director of Science & Nature at the National Trust, said: “We were really concerned as previous records showed that puffin numbers on Lundy had plummeted from over 3,500 pairs in 1939 to fewer than 10 pairs in 2000.

“And although around 75% of the global population of Manx shearwaters breed on UK islands there were only 297 pairs on Lundy in 2001, way short of its potential considering its size and available habitat.”