Looking out from Main Antipodes Island to Bollons Island. PHOTO: A Ballance. 

Introduction

DOC travelled to the Antipodes Island in winter 2016 to eradicate mice with support from its partners the Morgan Foundation and WWF.

Highlights

The operation was completed to plan and monitoring will take place in 2018, by which time it will be clear as to success or failure of the operation. More information on monitoring.

In this section

View a map of Anitipodes Island

The problem

Tristan albatross chick on subantarctic Gough Island being eaten alive by mice. Photo: Ross Wanless.
Tristan albatross chick on subantarctic Gough Island being eaten alive by mice

Mice are the only mammalian pest species on the remote Antipodes Islands. They were most likely accidentally introduced in 1893 from a ship wreck or one of the many sealing gangs. Mice are now abundant on the main Antipodes Island with an estimated population of 200,000 over the 2012 ha island.

Mice are responsible for the lack of invertebrates on the main Antipodes Island relative to the mouse free offshore islands, causing local extinctions. They compete with the island's unique land bird species; pipit, parakeet and snipe, by competing for food.

Mice have also been known to eat the eggs and chicks of seabirds and have been implicated in the deaths of albatross chicks on other subantarctic islands like Gough Island. Research on Antipodes Island has shown that mice eat huge numbers of invertebrates and seeds of plants that are critical to the health of the islands.

Million Dollar Mouse - the problem

The partners

Million Dollar Mouse logo.

Moved by his learnings during the Our Far South journey to Antarctica and the subantarctic islands, Gareth Morgan was motivated to raise a million dollars towards the eradication of mice from Antipodes Islands.

The New Zealand public raised $250,000 and WWF gave $100,000 towards the project. The Morgan Foundation matched their donations and brought other key partners together to raise enough money to get the project underway with the rest of the final cost to be funded by DOC. Island Conservation also joined the team as another key sponsor. 

Non-toxic bait trial winter 2013. Photo: James Russell.
Non-toxic bait trial winter 2013

Checking non-toxic bait uptake on the endemic Antipodes parakeet. Photo: James Russell.
Checking non-toxic bait uptake on the endemic Antipodes parakeet

Antipodean wandering albatross pair. Photo: K Walker.
Antipodean wandering albatross pair

The project

A ship delivered the team of 13 people to the island along with equipment that included 65 tonne of rodent bait, 30 tonne of jet fuel, two helicopters and bait spreading gear.

When the weather allowed, rodent bait containing the toxin brodifacoum was spread by helicopter using special bait spreading buckets.

Two separate treatments ensured complete coverage of the island so that bait is available to every mouse on the island. These treatments occured a minimum of 14 days apart to reduce the risk of weather damaging the bait and the small risk that if some breeding in the mouse population occurs over winter, young mice may exit from a nest after the bait is no longer viable.

Once complete, the team called for a pickup and the infrastructure and equipment was packed up, flown onto the ship and returned back to the New Zealand mainland.


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