This is a bizarre story. We are all familiar with the island of Montecristo from the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. If you go to the uninhabited island, however, you are likely to find not the treasure from the book (or Red Beard’s treasure, as has long been rumored to be buried there). What you will find are rats. Lots of rats. One for every square yard of island. Now, the Italian military is planning to literally bomb the island to kill the black rat (Rattus rattus) population — and save the island.
It appears that Italian officials may have gotten the idea from the novel from Jacopo: “Why not just kill them? I’ll do it! I’ll run up to Paris – bam, bam, bam, bam. I’m back before week’s end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?”
The black rats on the island off the coast of Tuscany and Corsica were introduced from boats and rapidly bred. Roughly 1000 tourists visit the four-square mile island every year.
Now, the military will drop 26 tons of poison pellets on the island. Putting aside the environmental damage that such poison could cause the sea and island from runoff and contamination, my chief question is what happened to tens of thousands of dead rats. The danger of a displacement effect on another species (let alone the smell) is considerable.