A Smart or Dumas Move? Italy Set To Bomb Island of Montecristo With 26 Tons of Rat Poison

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.

Source: Telegraph

29 thoughts on “A Smart or Dumas Move? Italy Set To Bomb Island of Montecristo With 26 Tons of Rat Poison

  1. Cats are a bad idea, the island is an animal preserve and that primarily benefits birds; it is an important rest stop for migratory birds. Cats to control the rats is just unwise in the extreme.

    Rats eat anything they can get down their throat- grain, plants, worms, birds, fish, nuts, insects etc. The island has been a sanctuary for decades, people aren’t allowed there, the rat population isn’t sustained by people’s waste or McDonald’s dumpsters.

    Run-off damaging some of the most pristine coral beds in the Mediterranean should be a worry as well as birds and native fauna eating the pellets. Wild goats, a stable population of 4 to 5 hundred, is the islands mega-fauna and has been for a couple of hundred years.

  2. LK,

    Although I wasn’t aware the island was a bird sanctuary I have to ask, “Why so?” Cats are explosion hunters. They are going to go for prey that requires the least expenditure of energy. I’m thinking a rat is much easier to catch than a bird.

  3. Until they run out of rats or find easier prey. Feral cats are a big problem in Australia and neighboring islands, they came ashore on ships and were later imported to control mice/rats and rabbits. Bad Idea, they have hunted some ground-dwelling native birds to extinction.

    There is clear evidence that feral cats have had
    a heavy impact on island fauna. On Macquarie
    Island, for example, feral cats are implicated in the
    sharp decline of a subspecies of the red-fronted
    parakeet in the 1880s and its extinction by 1891.
    On the mainland, they are identified as a threat to
    35 species of birds, 36 mammals, 7 reptiles and
    3 amphibians. Cats have probably contributed
    to the extinction of many small to medium-sized
    mammals and ground-nesting birds in the arid
    zone, and seriously affected bilby, mala and
    numbat populations. In some instances, feral cats
    have directly threatened the success of recovery
    programs for endangered species.
    Feral cats can carry infectious diseases such as
    toxoplasmosis and sarcosporidiosis, which can be
    transmitted to native animals, domestic livestock
    and humans. If rabies were to be accidentally
    introduced into Australia, there is a high risk that
    feral cats would act as carriers of the disease.”


  4. LK,

    We aren’t talking about Australia or New Zealand though. Montecristo is off the coast of Italy, so I’m going to discount disease vectors since humans already visit from the mainland and cats are everywhere in Europe. I can see the concern if it is a sanctuary and there are ground dwelling species there, but being a sterile population of cats breeding wouldn’t be an issue and once the rat population is eliminated, why not just trap the remaining cats and relocate them? I guess another important question to ask though is does Wafarin (or whatever poison they choose) effect the birds too? I’m guessing the reason a blood thinner is effective on rats is due to smaller body mass making the median lethal dosage smaller. The same logic would apply to birds unless there is something about their physiology that metabolizes it differently.

  5. No, we’re not talking about Australia but we are talking about cats and cats have certain behaviours that are destructive to any ecosystem they are allowed access to. There was a study some years ago about the damage to wildlife in a British city done by cats. I don’t think the study turned up a lot of damage to healthy prey populations across the entire of Britain but it did turn up a long list of animals a cat would consider prey. Cats will kill anything they can. If they were released into a closed system, like a small island, their damage could be great.

    The island is a granite mountain that has few roads and is a perfect sanctuary because it’s hard to explore. Trapping cats that don’t want to be trapped is not (I would venture) an easy job. I’m sure that makes the rat problem so difficult to deal with, you can’t get to them easily.

    LOL, Actually, If I thought a lot of cats released to kill rats would run out of food after killing all the rats and suffer from a lack of prey I would be castigating you for proposed cat cruelty😉

    Your question about the nature of the poison is a good one. A problem I see is that ‘you can’t eat just one’. If they are considered food by the birds they will eat more than one if the bait is available and the birds are anything like the wild birds devastating my birdseed dispensers. They just eat until they’re full or the seeds are gone. I think poison bombing has been done elsewhere with good effect, at least worked well for the effect desired.

  6. Well, I think that we must get rid of these rat’s somehow, but I don’t think that poison pellet bombing them is a good idea. For my writing class this is what we are writing about. I think that we should get rid of the rats, but how much is it going to cost? And you do realize that the people will probably pay for this! And then there adds in the insurance, materials, clean-up, and the ammount of pellets needed!
    Also, wouldn’t it be eaiser to just set traps and have someone come in each week to unload them. Because if we have pellets, some might fall into the water and poison the fish and pollute the water. Or other animals might eat them, such as birds, or pets that the tourists bring. And the tourists might accednetly bring some of the pellets back, and poison the people on the mainland. It’s not safe to use pellets!
    And what about the island? How would this effect the island long term? How would it effect the invironment?
    Many things to think about BEFORE we take action.

    By: A person

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