Friday 7th February comments: It’s been a productive few days for the Isle of May as we’ve been producing a working plan of action for biosecurity for the island; in other words keeping the island free from invasive species. An invasive species is a non-native species which is not naturally found in an area/on an island which has been introduced by humans, either deliberately or accidentally. These species can include mammals such as rats, mice, stoats and mink, some of which are native to mainland UK. However it’s the introduction of these animals to offshore islands which can lead to very serious environmental and economic damage.
Invasive animals can cause a range of problems for our islands as they are often skilled hunters and exploit local wildlife which have not evolved to cope with these predators. The eggs and chicks of ground-nesting seabirds such as Puffins and Terns are particular vulnerable and their populations can quickly be decimated by species such as rats (in some parts of the world, even leading to extinction of vulnerable populations of animals).
Currently the Isle of May, like many of our seabird islands are predator free and are some of the most important areas for breeding seabirds and we aim to keep it that way. As part of this an EU funded LIFE project has been set up called Biosecurity for Life, Website: https://biosecurityforlife.org.uk/ and it is working with several partners including SNH to ensure our seabirds are not at risk.
What this means at ground level is that we’ll be setting up a detection program on the island to allow us to detect rats if any make it to the island. It’ll also allow us to have the response team ready if any incursion occurs but also to make people aware of why it is important we remain predator free. So you’ll be seeing evidence of the new campaign on the island including posters making people aware and hopefully the Isle of May, like many other important seabird colonies, will remain predator free for many generations to come.