It took 61 days of intensive tracking and trapping to catch a male mouse on pest-free Moturua Island, in Ipipiri (the eastern Bay of Islands).
The Department of Conservation’s Bay of Islands Biodiversity Assets Programme Manager, Adrian Walker says, “We were getting anxious that we could not lure any mice into our traps, even with grapes, cheese and chocolate. Mice normally have home ranges of about 50 metre square – this mouse roamed over at least 500 square meters, at least a quarter of the island.”
Te Rawhiti Enterprise trappers found mouse tracks in one of the tracking tunnels on Moturua Island in October 2011. DOC’s pest incursion response team swung into action immediately. Adrian says, “Rodent tracking dogs, DOC rangers and volunteers with specialised rodent catching skills finally caught this rogue mouse at the mouth of a World War II water pipe in Army Bay.”
Angela Newport, DOC Bay of Islands Biosecurity Ranger says, “It is not clear how the mouse arrived on the island. It is possible it came with illegal campers or with other people using Army or Mangahawea Bays. At this time, we don’t know whether this mouse was a sole invader or there are still other mice on the island. So far, the checks have been clear for two weeks. We don’t want mice on any of the pest-free islands as insect and bird populations are recovering well without them.”
People can help Project Island Song succeed by checking their gear and boats for stowaways before leaving the mainland. Another easy way to help is to keep a look out on the island beaches for rat, mouse of stoat footprints. If any are seen, call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) and the pest incursion team will swing into action.
Free boaty bags are available from volunteers at the mainland boat ramps as well as from the DOC marine mammal patrol boat and other volunteer vessels on the water over the summer. Each bag contains information about Project Island Song.