House Mice Mus musculus were introduced to New Zealand’s Antipodes Island in the middle of the 20th century. Since then evidence has been mounting of their deleterious effects on the island’s plants, invertebrates and birds (click here). The island group supports seven species of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, of which the five that breed on the main island are potentially at risk to attacks by mice.
Following a successful campaign to raise a million New Zealand Dollars, plans are now firming up by the Department of Conservation to eradicate the island’s mice (the sole introduced mammal) in the austral winter of 2016. An edited timeline for next year’s intended bait drop follows:
“Late May 2016 – Charter ship departs for Antipodes Islands. Transport and aerial off load of supplies to the island, including aviation fuel, temporary accommodation structure, helicopters x 2, bait buckets, food, approximately 12 personnel, other equipment including; generators, spare parts for machinery including helicopters and buckets, fuels, bait in weatherproof pods.
June 2016– Mouse eradication operation commences. Two applications of bait [to be made] a minimum of 14 days apart.
Pack up (deconstruction of heli-platform, bait pods, hangar setup, accommodation, load ship with helicopters) and return to mainland New Zealand once operation completed.”
Antipodean Albatrosses: at risk to mice? Photograph by Erica Sommer
After at least two mouse breeding seasons following the eradication exercise a team of two rodent detection dogs and their handlers will work with a small team of monitoring staff to search the island for signs of mice. Monitoring tools may also include ink-tracking cards, wax tags and chew cards. The results of the planned monitoring will show whether the eradication effort was successful or not.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 April 2015