Parks Canada wants Prince Rupert residents to bring it rat ears and tails

Researchers with Parks Canada are asking people in Prince Rupert to bring them rat ears and tails, so long as they are "in good shape."

"[They have] to be in reasonable shape because if it's really rotten or broken down, then the DNA may not be intact enough," Robyn Irvine, project manager for Parks Canada, told CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

"Just cut them off with a pair of sharp scissors — a couple of centimetres off the tail or an ear and put in a ziplock bag."

The ask has a purpose: Irvine will use the body parts to figure out how rats spread to northwest B.C. and, ultimately, to Haida Gwaii and Gwaii Haanas where they threaten seabirds like ancient murrelets — a species-at-risk that is culturally significant to the Haida Nation — by eating their eggs and chicks. 

"The history of rat infestation on Haida Gwaii isn't completely clear," she explained. 

"We want to develop a library of the relatedness of the rats between Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii."  

Irvine says having that data will help researchers find out how long seabird colonies have been under attack by rats and help prevent future infestations. 

From 2009 to 2016, Parks Canada and the Haida Nation undertook a successful rat-eradication effort on three Gwaii Haanas national park reserve islands in order to preserve local wildlife. 

People interested in donating can drop off the rat parts at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada office in Prince Rupert.

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