- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is partnering with a nonprofit group to study rats that have been introduced to an uninhabited island north of Niihau.

The department said Thursday the rats are one of the main threats to Lehua Island’s plants and animals. They prey on ground nesting birds, eggs and chicks. They also eat bark leaves and new shoots of plants.

The study being conducted with the nonprofit Island Conservation will help the state determine what actions might be needed to protect Lehua’s native plants and animals.

Researchers will apply non-toxic cereal-based rodent pellets on the island from a helicopter for the study.

The rat pellets contain a non-toxic dye that will allow biologists to determine which animals eat the pellets.

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