Quail Island/Ōtamahua will be closed to the public from 10-31 July while a planned mouse eradication takes place.

Date:  06 July 2009

A planned mouse eradication is to give the restoration of native animals to Quail Island/Ōtamahua (situated in Lyttelton Harbour) a well-earned boost. The island will be closed to the public from 10-31 July while the operation takes place.

“Mice are the only remaining mammalian pest on Quail Island, as rats, hedgehogs, cats and possums have all been removed and trapping continues for mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets) en route to the island.” manager of the mouse eradication programme, Mike Bowie.

Tree weta. Photo: Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust.
Tree weta

“The existence of mice on the island is a major obstacle to the future introduction of insects, lizards and birds that once lived there. Mice eat seeds and in doing so suppress re-vegetation. They have contributed to the extinction of many invertebrates, on which they prey, from several off-shore islands. They also kill lizards and have been known to eat birds’ eggs and nestlings.”

The Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust, in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Te Hapu o Ngāti Wheke of Rāpaki, aim to facilitate the restoration of indigenous plants and animals to the island. It also plans to provide refuge for locally extinct or rare and endangered species of the Banks Peninsula region. Plans to restore native flora to one third of the island are well on track with over 70,000 plants in the ground after ten years of planting.

“The aim is to have a predator-free island close to Christchurch—similar to Tiritiri Matangi in the Auckland area and Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour. However, to achieve this aim, mice must first be eradicated.” Mike states.

“Considerable research, consultation and planning have gone into deciding upon the best method, bait type and timing of the eradication programme.”

Due to the close proximity of the island to the mainland and its use for recreation, biosecurity will be of upmost importance to stop any reinvasions of rodents. Strategic placement of trap boxes and bait stations will only form part of the biosecurity, efforts to avoid reinvasions, such as education of visitors, are also crucial to the project’s success.

Mike is excited by the possibilities of removing this last mammalian pest.

“The ecological gains of a predator-free island are immense; this has already been shown by the three-fold increase of penguin numbers after stoat, rat and hedgehog eradication on the island.”


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