Australia’s World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island has been formally declared free of all alien mammals this week after a near-seven-year campaign to eradicate European Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, Black Rats Rattus rattus and the House Mouse Mus musculus by the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Programme (MIPEP). This news follows the earlier eradication of feral Domestic Cats Felis catus from the island.
In 2007, the Australian Federal and Tasmanian Governments jointly funded an AUS$25 million project to eradicate introduced pests from the 12 785-ha island, utilizing poison bait dropped by helicopters followed by hunting with specially-trained dogs. No pets have been detected for the past two years and the eradication effort has been declared a success.
A Macquarie Island view, photograph by Aleks Terauds
Project Manager Keith Springer stated to the media: "We've had teams that have scoured the island by day and by night, covering a total of 92,000 km on the island, in terms of their tracked travel, searching every nook and cranny that they could access, to make sure that there's none left, no rabbit and no rodent” (click here). The latest team and their dogs have now returned from “Macca” to Hobart in Tasmania where they received commemorative dog tags recognizing their contribution in an awards presentation. The hunters got a badge.
The Macca dogs get their tags in Hobart, photograph by Justine Shaw
Macquarie Island is now the World’s largest island by far from which House Mice have been eradicated. The previous record was New Zealand’s linked Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands at a combined area of 3800 ha (click here). This success has significant implications for (and offers encouragement towards) plans to eradicate mice on the smaller islands of Gough (6400 ha) in the South Atlantic and Antipodes (2025 ha) south of New Zealand.
With a pest-free Macca now a reality, biosecurity measures for all shipping to the island have been improved in a joint programme between the Australian Antarctic Division and the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.
Read the official press release on MIPEP's sucess here.
Click here for previous coverage in ACAP Latest News of the eradication effort on Macquarie Island.
With thanks to Justine Shaw, Keith Springer and Aleks Terauds for information and the photographs.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 April 2014