Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Getting rid of alien mammals down south: news of progress from the sub-Antarctic

Regular readers of ACAP Latest News will know of the several alien mammal eradication programmes ongoing or planned on sub-Antarctic islands supporting breeding populations of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels.  These include New Zealand’s Antipodes Island, Australia’s Macquarie Island and the disputed territory of South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)*.

Updates for each island follow:

Antipodes Island

The Million Dollar Mouse Campaign to raise funds towards the eradication of the island’s House Mice Mus musculus population has now reached the figure of NZ$ 818 164 – over four fifths of its target.

Macquarie Island

Searches with specially-trained dogs for any remaining rodents and European Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus that may have survived the July 2011 poison bait drop are continuing by field workers of the Macquarie Invasive Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP).  The customary two-year waiting period during which no pests are recorded after which success is announced is approaching for Macca's Black or Ship Rat Rattus rattus and the House Mouse.  The last rabbit seen was killed in November 2011.  The island is now showing promising signs of vegetation recovery.  Click here for weekly reports from Macquarie that usually include news of the hunting efforts.

Now gone? The rabbits of Macquarie Island

Photograph by Aleks Terauds

South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)*

Latest news is that the 2013 phase of the campaign to eradicate Brown or Norway Rats R. norvegicus and House Mice on this large island has been successfully completed.  The Project’s Manager, Tony Martin reports:  “I am delighted and hugely relieved to advise you that at 1700Z today, 18 May, the last pellet of the last pod of bait at Hope Valley came out of a bucket over the Paryadin Peninsula.  That pellet represented the last act in this season's baiting.”  ‘Team Rat’ has now reached its 2013 target by baiting 580 km² of the island, despite operating in some of the worst weather in a decade.  This year's work means that 70% of the infested area of the island has been baited.

 

In Phase 1 in 2011 bait was spread over 10% of the island.  Subsequent monitoring has revealed no signs of rats in this area after two years.  Phase 3, to complete the task by baiting the last 30% (300 km²), is planned for 2015 – but for which funding is still required.  Progress with the eradication project can be followed by way of its regular newsletter Project News.

Click here to read of progress earlier this year with the elimination of introduced Reindeer Rangifer tarandus on this South Atlantic island.  The remaining animals will be targeted in a second phase, scheduled for next year.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 May 2013

*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 e Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.