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An amazing journey across the Bering Sea to reach Rat Island.

The uninhabited Rat Island lies far off in the Aleutians. Though it has remained largely unchanged over the millennia, an invasive predator — the Norway rat — has wreaked havoc for the island’s wildlife. © Island Conservation

The island’s cliffs were once ideal habitat for species of puffins and auklets. Archeologists and biologists say the 1780s rat invasion wiped out the island’s native birds, which nest in burrows, rock crevices and tundra heath — all vulnerable to rats. © Island Conservation

Restoration at Rat Island involved some challenging journeys. Two helicopters flew to the island from the Alaska mainland — a thousand-mile journey in which they passed sleeping volcanoes. © Island Conservation

The majority of the restoration crew traveled to the island in a 158-foot fishing vessel. Fieldwork in such remote environs calls for careful preparation. © Island Conservation

Clear and calm days are rare in the stormy Bering Sea — where crab boats ply the waters in the popular television show “Deadliest Catch.” © Island Conservation

Rat Island is an almost completely intact and rarely visited habitat. © Island Conservation

The tundra heath offers food and nesting habitat for native songbirds such as song sparrows, Lapland longspurs and the snow buntings. © Island Conservation

Red-faced cormorants are among the seabirds that may return to Rat Island in healthy numbers once again. © Steve MacLean/TNC

Populations of birds such as tufted puffins, like these photographed in the Pribilof Islands, are expected to rebound on restored island habitats. © Michael McBride

The Rat Island restoration team worked against the clock during a rare window of clear weather to eradicate invasive rats once and for all. © Steve Ebbert/USFWS

The two helicopters traversed the entire island, distributing rat bait laced with small amounts of rodenticide. © Steve Ebbert/USFWS

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research vessel, the Tiglax — meaning “eagle” in Aleut — supported the restoration project. © Island Conservation

A temporary camp of “weather-ports” and backpacking tents was home for the Rat Island field crew. © Island Conservation

The Rat Island field camp included a simple galley and a storehouse of food for members of the hard-working crew. © Island Conservation

In the far western reaches of the Aleutian Islands, calm seas are a welcome sight. © Island Conservation

With its 2008 field season complete, the Conservancy and its partners will return to the island in 2009 and 2010 to ensure the island’s invasive rat population is gone once and for all. © Island Conservation


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