Black rat cull project on Shiant Islands gets EU funding

A project to wipe out non-native black rats from a group of small Scottish islands has been awarded almost £450,000 of European Union funding.

The rats, whose ancestors were thought to have come ashore from shipwrecks in the 1900s, have been blamed for preying on seabirds on the Shiant Islands.

The islands, which are four miles (6km) off the coast of Lewis, provide habitat for more than 150,000 birds.

Shiants

The Shiant Seabird Recovery Project is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Nicolson family, who have owned the Shiants for three generations.

Puffins

Studies suggest that the rats eat seabird eggs and young chicks, harming the success of breeding seasons on the islands.

Puffin

The islands support 10% of the UK's puffin population.

Razorbills and puffins

They are also home to 7% of the UK's razorbills.

Puffins

The project's leaders say that poisoned bait will be used to eradicate the rats. The project will cost about £900,000 - Scottish Natural Heritage is providing £200,000 and the remainder will be raised from donations.

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