The Macca bait drop has commenced. Go to http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=7288
The long-in-the-making plans to eradicate the alien terrestrial mammals of Australia's Macquarie Island have reached fruition and the actual eradication programme has now commenced.
On 21 May the Aurora Australis departed from Hobart, Tasmania for sub-Antarctic Macquarie with a team of 20 staff, along with four helicopters and 305 tonnes of poison bait, in an effort to remove the rats, mice and rabbits from the island - according to a media release from the Australian Minister for Environment Protection and the Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage.
More information on the start of the eradication exercise may be found at http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/05/14/2900097.htm. To find the background documents and project newsletters (five have been issued to date) go to http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=13013.
The Project Leader, Keith Springer, has reported to ACAP that in the first eight days ashore this month on Macquarie breaks in the weather have allowed the establishment of three bait and fuel depots across the island, with the actual aerial baiting scheduled to have started soon thereafter.
In August specially trained dogs and their handlers will arrive at the island, to hunt the (hopefully) few rabbits that are expected to survive the aerial bait drop. If the operation succeeds in eradicating House Mice, "Macca" will be the largest island by far world-wide where which this has been achieved.
Meanwhile, half way round the world in the Atlantic Ocean efforts are well underway to commence the removal of rodents from another sub-Antarctic island: one even bigger than Macquarie. South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* is threatened by shrinking glaciers allowing the spread of Norway Rats. Click here to access the Environmental Impact Assessment and Operational Plan documents for the planned eradication.
Further information on the Habitat Restoration Project for this island may be found at http://www.sght.org/projects.htm. The first (trial) phase of aerial baiting is currently scheduled to take place in February-March 2011. It is intended to clear a total of 18 discrete baiting zones of rats during the 2011 trial phase and subsequent phase II operations during 2012 to 2014. In addition to monitoring at the end of each baiting season, further monitoring will be carried out throughout the island in 2015 and 2016 in order to ensure that no rats have survived.
The second newsletter (July 2010) for this South Atlantic restoration project may be found at http://www.sght.org/documents/HRnewsletterJul10.pdf.
Successes at Macquarie and South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur) should give a significant boost to United Kingdom plans (being led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) to remove the predatory mice from Gough Island in the South Atlantic (click here).
The eradication projects underway or planned for islands in the Southern Ocean will, if they succeed, lead to a marked improvement in the conservation status of a number of ACAP-listed species, ranging in size from the Grey Petrel Procellaria cinerea up to the great albatrosses of the genus Diomedea.
Click here http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?sys=News Article&intID=1895 for news of yet another eradication exercise on an important seabird breeding island: this time to remove feral cats.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 June 2010, updated 4 July 2010
*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.