Biggest mouse hunt underway!


Monitoring work is well underway on Antipodes Island.

After departing the mainland almost two weeks ago, the team has covered a substantial part of the island, crossing a range of habitats in this biggest of mouse hunts. While the terrain is difficult, and the vegetation thick, we’ve got a range of tools up our sleeves that will draw any interlopers into the open.

So far, we’ve set up 25 tracking tunnel lines, with ten tunnels each. These tunnels are set up with an inked tracking card and baited with peanut butter. Any mouse in the area looking to take a nibble will pay for it in footprints with the ink pads capturing the signature of any creature that passes through. Mice prints are quite distinctive, so we’ll be able to tell them apart from anything else that fancies a peanut butter snack.

Tracking tunnel team have lunch. Photo by P. Petchey

Tui and Piri dressed smart and ready to go. Photo by C. Nanning

In addition to our peanut butter ink tracks, we’ve had specially trained rodent detector dogs and their human handlers scouring the island looking for signs of mice. So far, they’ve covered most of the northern part of the island with the remainder on their sniff list scheduled for the next two weeks.

The Conservation Dogs Programme started in the late 1990s and has grown into a world leading conservation tool. A recent partnership with Kiwibank has boosted capability and provided extra funds to expand the capacity of the programme with four new dog handler teams. It is also great to have a dog handler from the Auckland Council  involved, to share knowledge and assist on the mouse hunt. Auckland Council are leaders in biosecurity and have a strong working relationship with DOC, partnering in Treasure Islands Campaign to protect conservation islands in the Hauraki Gulf.