Progress with the eradication of Gough Island’s mice with a site visit by the Restoration Programme Operations Advisor, Keith Springer

The Operations Advisor for the Gough Island Restoration Programme, Keith Springer, is currently on Gough Island.  The programme aims to eradicate the island’s “killer” House Mice Mus musculus that are killing many of the island’s seabirds by aerial bait drop from helicopters in 2019.  As regularly reported in ACAP Latest News the Gough mice are leading the ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena to extinction by killing downy chicks every winter, leading to an unsustainably low breeding success (click here).

Tristan Albatross chick attacked on the neck by Gough's House Mice, photograph by Peter Ryan

Keith is accompanying the South African annual relief of its weather station on the island, having travelled on South Africa’s Antarctic research and supply ship, the S.A. Agulhas II earlier this month.  In his blog he writes:

Firstly, the preparation of applications for various relevant approvals to do the work must be done.  Secondly, operational planning needs to be robust, and based on undertaking actions and using methodologies that maximise the chance of successful eradication.  Finally, there is an enormous amount of detailed logistical planning to be done.  Gough is around 2,800 km from Cape Town, the closest city, so once on the island you can’t go back if you forget anything.  Everything down to the last shackle, tent peg and drum of fuel has to be thought through and bought as the whole operation depends on having the right gear to do the job, plus of course enough spares for unforeseen events.  It is this level of detailed planning and procurement that takes much of the time.

Future reports will detail Keith’s experiences ashore.

With thanks to John Kelly.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 September 2016

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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.

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