By Michael Thomsen For Dailymail.com
Published: 18:31 GMT, 20 January 2020 | Updated: 18:31 GMT, 20 January 2020
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 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