Macquarie ranger tells her story

Ranger-in-Charge Andrea Turbett talks about Macquarie  Island post pest eradication

Andrea Turbett

“I first visited Macquarie Island in 2010, when I assisted with planning work in preparation for the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP). Aerial baiting followed in 2011 and then the island was searched by hunters and their dogs for nearly three years. The eradication of rabbits, rats and mice was declared successful in April 2014.

I am very fortunate to have been involved in the eradication project, seen the rabbits and the degradation, and to now be back here five years later to witness the island flourish. The natural revegetation is prolific. Beautiful silver clumps of the megaherb Pleurophyllum emerge during the summer months and delicate tiny fungi pop up everywhere. Thick swaths of lush green Poa tussock grasses cover the hillsides. In some places the tall tussock grasses are making walking along the coastline more difficult – some are taller than me!

Macquarie Island megaherbs; pleurophyllum. Photo by A.Turbett

Macquarie Island megaherbs; pleurophyllum. Photo by A.Turbett

Macquarie rockhoppers amongst lush megaherbs. Photo by A. Turbett

Macquarie rockhoppers amongst  megaherbs. Photo by A. Turbett

Many animals are better off too. One of my favourite things I saw soon after returning to the island were curious little rockhopper penguins hiding in lush patches of Stilbocarpa, another megaherb and known as the Macquarie Island cabbage, which was previously heavily grazed by rabbits.

Even in winter we are seeing good outcomes of MIPEP. A couple of months ago Anna (the wildlife ranger) and I were excited to find downy grey petrel chicks in burrows on the west coast at some places that have had no sign of breeding for about 10 years! These sites suffered major degradation in the years prior to MIPEP due to the combination of rabbit burrowing destabilising sites and high grazing pressure removing vegetation cover. At one of the nest sites there are now healthy clumps of tussock grass on slopes that were almost bare in 2012.”Read more