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NEWS RELEASE · 20th June 2013
Gwaii Haanas Park
Today at the Birdlife Congress in Ottawa, Gwaii Haanas will be featured for their leadership role with restoring seabird habitat. They are planning Canada's first aerial eradication of invasive alien species in Gwaii Haanas starting this fall. The goal of the project is to allow seabirds like the Ancient Murrelet, a species at risk, to once again use remote islands as breeding habitat.

Video of similar project in California.

Parks Canada and the Haida Nation are taking a leadership role in protecting and restoring critical seabird habitat by undertaking Canada’s first aerial eradication of invasive rats from an island ecosystem. The work will take place in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site in September 2013.

“As a world leader in conservation, Parks Canada is committed to protecting and restoring seabird habitat in Gwaii Haanas – home to a significant proportion of the millions of nesting seabirds on Haida Gwaii,” said Ernie Gladstone, Gwaii Haanas Field Unit Superintendent. “This project will correct an imbalance and allow seabirds and other creatures to return to their natural homes and thrive. It is a significant step toward re-establishing a healthy ecosystem.”

“The introduction of rats to many of the forested islands of Haida Gwaii has meant the demise of several historic seabird nesting colonies,” said Haida Nation president Peter Lantin. “Of particular interest is the Ancient Murrelet, a species at risk. Also known as SGin Xaana or Night bird, this was once an important food source for our people.”

A significant portion of the world’s population of Ancient Murrelets breeds on remote islands in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. The Ancient Murrelet is a culturally significant seabird species to Haida peoples, who used it for sustenance and for ceremonial purposes.

Launched in 2009, the five-year Night Birds Returning project is a joint effort between Parks Canada and the Haida Nation to eradicate invasive rats from four islands within Gwaii Haanas and restore nesting habitat throughout the national park reserve – an area of global significance for seabirds. During Phase 1, a ground based eradication was carried out on small islands in 2011 and, in Phase 2 beginning this year, an aerial based eradiation will be undertaken.

The program has been supported through partnerships with Island Conservation and Coastal Conservation, leading groups in the field, along with a new $400,000(US) contribution from the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – a non-governmental, charitable body established by the US Congress. Successful aerial eradications have helped restore critical habitat in vulnerable island ecosystems internationally and Parks Canada is drawing on technical expertise from experts in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico. With Phase 2 of this project, Canada and the Haida Nation are being featured at the Birdlife World Congress 2013 in Ottawa as leaders in global seabird conservation.

Parks Canada works to ensure Canada’s historic and natural heritage is protected and, through a network of 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, invites Canadians and people around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our treasured natural and historic places. Gwaii Haanas is cooperatively managed by the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada.