"Alaska's Rodent-Free Rat Island Gets New Name -- Hawadax"

"The remote Aleutian site known for two centuries as Rat Island, notorious as the first spot in Alaska despoiled by rats, has a new, more dignified name to celebrate its hard-won rodent-free status - but it may be harder for some to pronounce."

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The 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometre) island will now be known as Hawadax (pronounced 'How-ah-thaa'), the traditional Aleut name it was given before a Japanese sailing ship ran aground there in the late 1700s and triggered Alaska's first rat invasion, state and federal officials said on Wednesday.

Hawadax has multiple meanings, including 'entry' and 'welcome,' said Alaska State Historian Jo Antonson. 'It sounds better than "Rat,"' she said.

The rats that jumped ashore from a shipwreck in 1780 and their successive generations wiped out nearly all the island's native seabirds and wreaked other ecological destruction on the island, located about 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage.

In the fall of 2008, wildlife managers succeeded in eradicating the rampaging rodents by dropping rat poison onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets."

Yereth Rosen reports for Reuters June 1, 2012.

Friday, June 1, 2012