The Shiants are now rat-free

The Shaint Isles in the Outer Hebrides has now been declared officially rat-free, thanks to a four-year partnership project.  A month-long check in February found no signs of rats, and there haven’t been any for two years.  This is brilliant news for the vast colonies of seabirds there.

The EU LIFE+funded Shaints seabird recovery project started  in 2014 and is a partnership between the Nicolson family, Scottish National Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland.  It benefited as well from the help of volunteers and donations.  Over the last four years, the project has focused on making the islands a safe place for seabirds to raise their chicks by removing the non-native black rats that eat the eggs and chicks.  It is thought that seabirds like guillemots, razorbills and puffins will have better breeding seasons in the future.  Around 100,000 seabirds nest here every year.  

Over the past two years, the project has been focusing on bringing back manx shearwaters and storm petrels back to the islands.  These are two species that cannot survive with rats.  The churring call of a storm petrel, recorded on the islands for the last time last summer, was a strong sign that the islands were rat free.

To make sure the islands stay rat free, visitors are being told to check boats and kits for mammalian threats.