Tons of bloated rat carcasses drift ashore in wake of Hurricane IsaacS

For dolphins, a hurricane can actually bring new life (in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, dolphin birth rates soared); but for rats, a hurricane the size of last week's Isaac can translate to wholesale devastation. But that might actually be a good thing for the region.

According to Reuters:

As of Tuesday, about 16,000 of the rodents have been collected in Hancock County, where a hired contractor's clean-up efforts are expected to continue for another week, officials said.

In nearby Harrison County, officials decided to carry out the work themselves. Using shovels and pitchforks, workers have removed 16 tons of the dead rats from beaches since Saturday and taken them to a local landfill.

Mississippi also dealt with dead rats after Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, but officials said the current situation seems especially bad.

"They're actually starting to swell up and bust," Hancock County Supervisor David Yarborough told local news station WLOX in an interview. "It smells really bad."

What's interesting is that this rat culling may actually prove beneficial to the Gulf Coast, where the creatures are regarded as one of the region's most most devastating invasive species. According to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the rats are notorious for "wreaking ecological havoc on native wetland vegetation and contributing to coastal erosion problems."

Continue reading at Reuters and WLOX13

Top image Reuters/Michael Spooneybarger