At Destruction Island, one of the Northwest's most remote places — an out-of-the-way island so wild and ecologically sensitive it is now largely off-limits to people — humans have managed to upend the natural system.
And we did it the way we have on more than 800 islands around the world: We brought bunnies.
From the Channel Islands in California to our own San Juans to islands off Chile, North Africa and New Zealand, invasive European rabbits wreak such havoc on plants and seabirds that governments the world over have spent a century trying to eradicate the furry beasts. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is making plans to try its luck here, on a 30-acre sea-swept outcropping off the Washington coast, 17 miles southwest of LaPush.
It can be a prickly problem. Cottontails, to some — especially in North America — remain a sort of charismatic cuddly fauna. For years, nearly 500 toothy, grass-guzzling, invasive rabbits transformed San Juan Island's American Camp prairie into what the National Park Service dubbed "a moonscape." But the agency two years ago backed off plans to shoot and trap the animals after a public outcry. The Park Service is conducting a more detailed environmental analysis.