Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Ridding New Zealand’s Antipodes Island of its introduced House Mice: operation to get going in February next year

Regular readers of ACAP Latest News will know of the plans to eradicate introduced House Mice Mus musculus next year on New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Antipodes Island, home of seven species of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels.

Antipodes Island, with mouse-free Bollins Island beyond, photograph by Erica Sommer

The Million Dollar Mouse project has now reported on the latest development -“Operation Endurance” - in the campaign.

“From February – April 2016 the NZ Defence Force will support the Department of Conservation (DOC) with work in the NZ Subantarctics; this includes work on Campbell Island and the Antipodes Islands.  Two teams will travel on the HMNZS Canterbury to the Subantarctics in February, firstly dropping off a team on Campbell then moving onto the Antipodes Islands.  In addition to the NZ Navy, the NZ Air Force and NZ Army will be on board the HMNZS Canterbury and will provide assistance and support through the use of the Air Force helicopter the Seasprite and Army personnel for coordinating and moving loads from the vessel to the island.  There will be 75 loads in total weighing approximately 27 tonne; loads will be flown by helicopter from the vessel to the island. Loads include a small digger, two power barrows, 15 tonne of timber, and a water tank, a fire escape window for the hut, tools, fuel and food plus the helicopter hangar.

A team of 11 people (DOC staff, contractors and volunteers) will spend 18 days working on the Antipodes Islands in preparation for the mouse eradication start date which is June 2016.  Work will involve levelling a site for the heli-platform, construct the helicopter platform, testing the helicopter hangar on heli-platform, complete hut repairs, and prepare sites for a second helicopter landing site and temporary accommodation shelters.  In addition monitoring staff will undertake mouse monitoring on the unvisited offshore islands and trial mouse monitoring methodology on the main island.” Click here to read more.

Antipodean Albatrosses on Antipodes: at risk to mice?  Photograph by Erica Sommer

The results of the Antipodes exercise will help inform progress towards eradicating mice on the UK’s Gough and South Africa’s Marion, both islands where the species is the only introduced mammal remaining.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 November 2105

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