By Nick Squires, Rome 7:59PM GMT 15 Jan 2012
It was immortalised by the novelist Alexandre Dumas as the location for a stash of buried treasure, but the tiny Italian island of Montecristo is now struggling with a rather less romantic reality – a plague of black rats.
The uninhabited island, a protected nature reserve lying between the coast of Tuscany and Corsica, has been invaded by thousands of black rats.
The rodents are believed to have arrived on the four-square-mile island as stowaways on boats a few years ago but have now multiplied.
Authorities are planning to use aircraft to bombard the island with poison pellets in a bid to tackle the infestation.
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