Eradication of mice from Antipodes Island, New Zealand

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ISBN: 978-2-8317-1961-0
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Eradication of mice from Antipodes Island, New Zealand

In winter 2016, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) eradicated mice (Mus musculus) from the Antipodes Islands located at 49°S 178°E, 760 km south-east of New Zealand’s South Island. Mice were the only mammalian pest species present. They have extensively impacted the abundance and survival of invertebrates, with likely secondary impacts on endemic terrestrial birds and nesting seabird fauna. Public-private partnerships with DOC instigated the project and provided essential financial support. Baseline scientific data for operational planning and outcome monitoring were collected by a research expedition in July 2013 and project planning began in 2014. At the time of writing, this is the largest eradication of mice undertaken where mice are the sole mammalian pest species. Logistical challenges were complicated by a broad range of regulatory obligations. The expedition-style project used a ship to deliver a team and equipment to Antipodes Island where they established camp and remained until the completion of baiting. Bait spread was completed incrementally as weather allowed, comprehensively covering the islands in two separate treatments between 18 June 2016 and 12 July 2016. The last sign of mice was detected 20 days after the fi rst application of bait and the eradication of mice was confirmed by monitoring in late summer 2018. Public engagement was achieved with regular operational updates across multiple platforms and positive media coverage. Non-toxic bait trials accurately predicted some by-kill of pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae steindachneri) but did not anticipate poisoning of some Antipodes parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor) and Reischek’s parakeet (Cyanoramphus hochstetteri). Known pest-free islands were not baited, providing refuge for land birds to mitigate the risk. Fledging success of Antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis) chicks was not impacted by the operation and those species that were affected had recovered by summer 2018.

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