Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

A research report and a five-minute film detail work conducted towards eradicating House Mice on New Zealand’s Antipodes Island

Graeme Elliott (Science and Capability Group, Department of Conservation, Nelson, New Zealand) and colleagues have published a report in the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s DOC Research and Development Series on research conducted preparatory to the planned attempt to eradicate House Mice Mus musculus on Antipodes Island next year.

The report’s abstract follows

“The eradication of house mice (Mus musculus) from subantarctic Antipodes Island is likely to present many challenges, but of particular concern is the potential impact on resident non-target terrestrial and marine bird species.  Therefore, the likely impacts of the proposed eradication operation were examined in July 2013.  Non-toxic baits containing the biotracer pyranine were distributed over 6 ha of the island at a density of 16 kg/ha.  The density of mice and levels of bait uptake were then measured on three trapping grids, two within and one external to the bait distribution area.  All mice that were captured in the two trapping grids in the baited area at Reef Point returned positive results for pyranine.  In contrast, 1 snipe (Coenocorypha aucklandica meinertzhagenae), 9 pipits (Anthus novaeseelandiae steindachneri), 17 Reischek’s parakeets (Cyanoramphus hochstetteri) and 16 Antipodes Island parakeets (Cyanoramphus unicolor) that were captured within the Reef Point study area showed no signs of having eaten the baits.  Pyranine was, however, found in bird faeces collected within the bait distribution area, which predominantly originated from blackbirds (Turdus merula) and song thrushes (Turdus philomelos), along with small numbers of pipits. Pipits were also observed eating small quantities of bait and producing faeces containing the biotracer.  Scavenging species such as brown skua (Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi), kelp gulls (Larus dominicanus) and northern giant petrels (Macronectes halli) appeared to show no interest in the baits or, in the case of northern giant petrels, dead mice.  Bait persistence trials were also conducted, and population monitoring of mice, parakeet species, pipits, snipe and invertebrates are reported on, along with captive husbandry techniques and observations of the diet of parakeets.  Finally, a list of recommendations for minimising non-target impacts and carrying out monitoring prior to and following mouse eradication is provided.”

An Antipodean Albatross pair on the Antipodes, photograph by Erica Sommer

Winter in the Subantarctic is a short film recorded on the 2013 expedition which describes the research then undertaken in preparation for the eradication of mice and restoration of the island.

Reference:

Elliott, G.P., Greene, T.C., Nathan, H.W. & Russell, J.C. 2015.  Winter bait uptake trials and related field work on Antipodes Island in preparation for mouse (Mus musculus) eradication.  DOC Research and Development Series No. 345.  34 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 May 2015

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