Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

The first bait drop on Gough Island to eradicate its House Mice is completed

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End in sight? Andrea Angel holds a Tristan Albatross close to death after being attacked by mice on Gough Island, photograph by Ross Wanless

The latest news from the Gough Island Restoration Project (GIRP) reports good progress with the effort to rid the island of its predatory House Mice that attack and kill the chicks (and as recently reported, adults) of the near endemic and Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena, as well of other seabirds that breed on the island.

The GIRP Facebook page says on 24 June “The first island-wide distribution of bait has been completed! This is an important milestone for the project, but we still have a long way to go, now fingers firmly crossed for good weather windows for the second application!”  With the commencement of bait dropping reported on 14 June, it seems it took only 10-11 days to drop bait over the whole of the 65-km2 island.  The eradication team with helicopters and bait arrived on the island aboard South Africa’s Antarctic research and supply ship, the S.A. Agulhas II on 3 June, with offloading competed and the ship departing for Cape Town on the 10th so it can be said things have been moving apace.  ACAP offers its best wishes for the second bait drop (which usually commence around two weeks after the first drop is completed) and hopes for an island free of mice, allowing recovery of the island ecosystem to commence.

A recent GIRP Facebook post informs that the main communication system on the island is currently down, so messages are not getting through at the moment.  “We want to pass on a message that everyone is safe and well and will be in contact as/when we manage to re-establish the lines.”  In this case, then a case of no (or little) news is good news.

Access the latest (No. 8, May 2021) and earlier editions of Island Restoration News, the GIRP newsletter here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 June 2021