New Zealand

During the 45 years that the Raoul Island weed eradication programme has been underway, eleven species have been eradicated. To complete the restoration of Raoul Island’s unique ecosystems supporting signi?cant seabird biodiversity and endemic biota, nine further transformer weeds must be eradicated. In this review of progress to date, we examine the feasibility of eradication of these transformers and identify that four species are on target for eradication: African olive (Olea europaea subsp.

Big South Cape Island (Taukihepa) is a 1040 ha island, 1.5 km from the southwest coast of Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand. This island was rat-free until the incursion of ship rats (Rattus rattus) in, or shortly before, 1963, suspected to have been accidentally introduced via local fishing boats that moored at the island with ropes to the shore, and were used to transport the mutton birders to the island.

In locations with a high potential for re-invasion, such as inshore islands, sustained control of invasive species is as important as the initial knock-down for the long-term recovery of native populations. However, ongoing trap maintenance and lure replenishment are barriers to minimising the time and financial costs of long-term suppression, even when automatic traps are used.

Pieris brassicae, large white butter?y, was ?rst found in New Zealand in Nelson in May 2010. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) responded with a monitoring programme until November 2012 when the Department of Conservation (DOC) commenced an eradication programme. DOC was highly motivated to eradicate P. brassicae by the risk it posed to New Zealand endemic cress species, some of which are already nearly extinct. DOC eliminated the butter?y from Nelson in less than four years at a cost of ca. NZ$5 million.

Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand is a 220 ha restoration island managed by the Department of Conservation as an open sanctuary. Following eradication of the only mammalian predator, the Paci?c rat (Rattus exulans) in 1993, a variety of threatened birds, lizards and a giant invertebrate have been transferred to the island. In March 2000, Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) was discovered and delimiting surveys revealed a 10 ha infestation.

New Zealand has been the world leader in the eradication of invasive mammalian predators from offshore islands. Today, the focus for invasive predator management is shifting to larger landscapes; big inhabited islands or the mainland itself. The most cost-effective approach in the long term will be to eradicate the predators from those areas, ensuring permanent freedom for vulnerable and threatened native biodiversity to recover or be reintroduced. Island eradication technologies cannot always be employed on the mainland (e.g. aerial brodifacoum), so a new approach is required.

The impacts of house mice (Mus musculus), one of four invasive rodent species in New Zealand, are only clearly revealed on islands and fenced sanctuaries without rats and other invasive predators which suppress mouse populations, influence their behaviour, and confound their impacts. When the sole invasive mammal on islands, mice can reach high densities and influence ecosystems in similar ways to rats.

Following the incursion of rats (Rattus rattus) on Taukihepa (Big South Cape Island; 93.9 km²) off southern New Zealand in 1963, and the subsequent extirpation of several endemic species, the New Zealand Wildlife Service realised that, contrary to general belief at the time, introduced predators do not reach a natural balance with native species and that a safe breeding habitat for an increasing number of ‘at risk’ species was urgently needed.

Eradication of introduced species from inhabited islands requires consideration of both technical and social feasibility. Historically, biologists have struggled to engage successfully in the social components of eradication planning. Island communities have unique features that require consideration in eradication planning. Social impact assessment is a powerful planning tool used widely outside of wildlife management. We outline the core components of a social impact assessment as it could be applied to eradication planning on inhabited islands.

Predators play a critical role in ecosystems; however, when overly abundant, they can disrupt natural processes and cause extinctions of species. In particular, oceanic islands have endured many impacts of introduced mammalian predators. Whereas knowledge and management of introduced mammalian predators on islands is well advanced in natural landscapes, in inhabited landscapes, spanning rural and urban environments, comparatively less is known.