To preserve the Lord Howe woodhen from extinction, scientists exterminated all ...

Critically endangered bird is re-released on tiny Australian island after officials spend months wiping out huge rat population that almost drove them to extinction The Lord Howe woodhen was near extinct after a 2019 rodent population boom The small flightless bird had nearly gone extinct once before in the 1970s  Researchers captured 230 woodhens and set up traps for the rats and mice The team was able to safely reitntroduce the woodhens after the extermination 

By Michael Thomsen For Dailymail.com

Published: 18:31 GMT, 20 January 2020 | Updated: 18:31 GMT, 20 January 2020

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This month, researchers on Lord Howe Island in Australia have reported that their plan to reintroduce a species of near extinct bird after what they described as the largest ever rodent eradication program on an island has been a success.

The Lord Howe woodhen is a small flightless bird that had lived peaceably  for thousands of years on the picturesque tourist island a little less than 400 miles northeast of Sydney.

In the summer of 2019, the island's woodhen populations were threatened by an explosion in the rodent population, which topped 360,000—more than 1,000 for every one of its 350 human residents.

The Lord Howe woodhen were threatened with extinction for the second time last year, after the island's rodent population exploded

The Lord Howe woodhen were threatened with extinction for the second time last year, after the island's rodent population exploded

The woodhens had already survived one extinction scare in the early 1970s, when their numbers dwindled to fewer than 30, thanks to a mix of human hunting, and owls, feral cats, and hogs.  

To prevent a second potential extinction crisis, researchers decided to instead move forward with a radical plan to wipe out the island’s rodent population.

A group of workers from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo captured around 230 woodhens and kept them in specially designed enclosures, alongside currawong, another subspecies of island bird that was targeted by rodents.

‘We had to sit down and work out what to feed them and how to look after them, and how many staff we would need and what kind of facility we would need to construct,’ project supervisor Michael Shiels told ABC.net.

‘The enclosures had to be mouse-proof and rat-proof and safe for the birds.’

Lord Howe Island is a small is a small but popular tourist attraction a little less than 400 miles off the coast of Sydney, with just 350 local residents

Lord Howe Island is a small is a small but popular tourist attraction a little less than 400 miles off the coast of Sydney, with just 350 local residents

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