No introduced Reindeer remain on a South Atlantic seabird island

The introduced Reindeer Rangifer tarandus of South Georgia (Isla Georgias del Sur)* are no more.  Following the removal of the Busen herd in January and February last year (click here) this year attention switched to the animals on the Barff Peninsula.

The second phase got underway on 3 January when six hunters from the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate were deployed to shoot the remaining animals on the peninsula, following the shooting of 1555 Reindeer there in 2013 (click here).

A Reindeer on South Georgia (Isla Georgias del Sur)*, photograph by Martin Collins

“Despite challenging terrain and some of the worst summer weather in recent years, the marksmen completed systematic searches of all areas with reindeer and shot 3,140 animals in a six-week period.  In the coming months, the area will be thoroughly checked to ensure that it has been cleared.”

The FPV Pharos SG acted as a support vessel, assisting in the deployment of the shooters and their gear.  The shooters were based in tented field camps as well as field huts.  Meat was recovered from some of the animals shot for local consumption.  Observers were posted in St Andrews Bay during shooting in the area to observe the effect of shooting on the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus colony and to ensure there was no disturbance to the birds.

With the over 1900 animals eliminated from the Busen area of the island last year over 6600 Reindeer have now been removed from the island (click here).

“Alongside the work to remove reindeer, several scientific research projects were undertaken, including the collection of samples for genetic analysis and filming for behavioural research.  Science teams have also continued to monitor vegetation and bird communities [including of ACAP-listed burrowing White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis] to track the recovery of the island’s systems after the eradication.  Although it will take a number of years for the full benefits of the eradication to be realised, there are early signs of vegetation recovery, especially in the Busen area, which has now been free from reindeer for almost a year.”

Habitat to improve for White-chinned Petrels without Reindeer?

Photograph by Ben Phalan

Click here for another news item on the successful Reindeer eradication.

With thanks to Jennifer Lee for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 February 2014

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

About ACAP

ACAP Secretariat

119 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000

Tel: +61 3 6165 6674