'Literary' Island Faces Bombing of Rat Poison
Italy plans to exterminate rats on Montecristo
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2012 6:20 PM CST
The island of Montecristo, inhabited by rats and possibly 16th-century treasure.   (Wikipedia)

(Newser) – Any buried treasure on the island of Montecristo will soon be covered in rat poison. Facing a massive rat infestation, Italian authorities plan to drop 26 tons of poison on the 4-square-mile island that inspired Alexandre Dumas' famous novel The Count of Monte Cristo, the Telegraph reports. Black rats may have arrived there years ago as stowaways, and multiplied until one exists for every square yard of island, biologists say.

Conservationists, however, fear the poison may land in the sea between Tuscany and Corsica and kill off marine life. The extermination might also endanger the 1,000 tourists who visit Montecristo annually. "No one wants to poison the island," says a national park official. "The project will be managed by experts." In 1844, Dumas set his novel partly on the island because of stories that 16th-century pirates had buried treasure there.