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New Zealand eradicates 200,000 mice from a single island

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 3:41 PM - Mice have been causing a big problem for native wildlife on New Zealand's remote Antipodes Island.

 This particular type of mouse, which is similar to those found in Spain, was introduced to the ecosysten sometime around 1909, likely from a ship.

Since then, the invasive mice have thrived, much to the dismay of the 21 bird species that use Antipodes Island as a breeding ground, as well as the countless insects, lizards and inverterbrates that live there.

According to researchers, hoards of mice overwhelm bird chicks.  They have threatened entire invertebrate species and eliminated two insect species on the island.

SEE ALSO: How invasive plants make wildfires hotter

Teams have been using an aerial baiting program to keep the mouse population at bay, using precision GPS delivery via helicopter to minimize the spread of toxins, and it appears their efforts have paid off. Earlier this year monitoring teams, assisted with three rodent-detecting dogs, searched the island for almost a month with no signs of mice.

Then, on March 21, New Zealand's Department of Conservation officially declared the island to be mouse-free.

The achievement was the result of the Million Dollar Mouse, a joint initiative between the government and local conservation groups.

In what's being called the "most complex island eradication projects ever undertaken," teams faced a myriad of problems eliminating mice from the island, including the remoteness of the island and harsh weather conditions.

“Seeing so many Antipodean and Reischek’s parakeets, pipits and insects flourishing on what is now a predator-free island is a tribute to the ambition, planning, dedication and skills of everyone involved from the helicopter pilots and bait crews in 2016 to the monitoring team this year,” New Zealand Subantarctic Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said in a statement.

Researchers say the successful removal of the mice will allow Antipodes native species to thrive. The initiative can also serve as a blueprint for other islands struggling with invasive rodents.


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