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Hear Stephen Horn talk about the challenges of eradicating mice off the Antipodes Island

Stephen Horn down Antipodes Island.

Stephen Horn down Antipodes Island.

Stephen Horn at the Old Government Buildings, Wellington. All welcome. 6 – 7pm Lecture theatre 1.

The Million Dollar Mouse project saw New Zealander’s raise $1m to eradicate mice off the far flung Antipodes Islands. In winter 2016 a team of 13 people journeyed to Antipodes Island at the edge of the furious fifties to attempt the ambitious eradication. After 75 days, they returned home from this remarkable place.

Project Manager Stephen Horn took a team of 13 people to the Islands to complete this ambitious project. We invite you to hear Stephen share the adventure of ridding mice from one of the wildest and most remote parts of New Zealand.

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Monitoring Results

Monitoring results, as specified in the Resource Consent, will be published on the MDM website and the DOC website by March 2017 .

These early results will look at the effects the eradication had on non-target species.

Result monitoring from the eradication will be  published in 2018. This monitoring will determine whether the eradiation reached its target of removing mice from Antipodes Islands.

Antipodes Island parakeet. Photo by F.Cox

Antipodes Island parakeet. Photo by F.Cox

Antipodes pipit

Antipodes pipit. Banded as part of the monitoring

Antipodes Snipe Anchorage Bay. Photo by F.Cox

Antipodes Snipe Anchorage Bay. Photo by F.Cox

Reischek’s Parakeet. Photo by F.Cox

Reischek’s Parakeet. Photo by F.Cox

 

Antipodes Mouse Eradication Project debrief

Each pest eradication sits on the shoulders of those that preceded it

One of the key aspects of good project management is to review, record and pass on lessons for future projects. In this manner we continuously improve the way we do things. A team met late last week to discuss the different aspects of the Antipodes Mouse Eradication Project.  This proved to be very valuable.

Debrief team

Debrief team

Read more:

Island Pest Eradications

Eradications that paved the way

The Norfolk Guardian and the Evohe

A big thanks to the Norfolk Guardian and the Evohe crew from the Antipodes mouse eradication team for a safe return back to New Zealand.

“The boys on the Guardian worked extremely hard when we were unloading and loading their vessel with our equipment.” said Finlay Cox from the Antipodes mouse eradication team. “It was a pleasure to work with them and great to get to know them. They were a laugh and made us welcome on their vessel.  They even shared their ice cream!”

The Antipodes mouse eradication team returned back to New Zealand safely on the 6 August.

The Norfolk Guardian crew and MDM team

The Norfolk Guardian crew and MDM team

The Antipodes Island mouse eradication team return home

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Antipodes Island baiting. Photo by S. Horn

Saturday 6 August, both the Evohe and the Norfolk Guardian safely returned to NZ from the Antipodes, with the Antipodes mouse eradication team on board.

The first boat left NZ for the Antipodes back on the 23 May 2016 with the mission to eradicate mice from the Antipodes Islands.

Tony Preston, Department of Conservation, Murihiku Operations Manager shares a few words of congratulations to the teams efforts.

The detailed planning and careful execution using every window of good weather has paid off in the successful and safe delivery of two bait applications across the island.  

We are super proud of this team which includes two staff from Island Conservation and three from helicopter company Island Aerial Solutions.

The Million Dollar Mouse project shows the power of collaboration to achieve what only a decade ago seemed an insurmountable task, and provides lessons as we turn our attention to  the Predator Free New Zealand goal for 2050.  When we work together great things can be achieved.  Thanks heaps to very generous support from our partners: the New Zealand public,  Morgan Foundation, Island Conservation and WWF-New Zealand.

Read more from the Partners

Watch TVNZ feature the return of the team to Dunedin

No doubt the team will enjoying sleeping in a warm house rather than a flappy tent for the first time in nearly 10 weeks! But perhaps they may be missing those chorizo dinners….or maybe not!

Hut site

Hut and camp site Antipodes Island

Jason and Jose from Island Conservation

Jason and Jose from Island Conservation enjoy chorizo

 

A word from the Partners

The Million Dollar Mouse partners reflect on the Antipodes mouse eradication project

 

The Antipodes. Photo by F. Cox

 

Jason and Jose from Island Conservation

 

Stephen Horn with Windwards in background. Photo by F.Cox

Stephen Horn with Windwards in background. Photo by F.Cox

 

Ann DeSchutter – GIS expert

 

Darron McCully. Photo by F.Cox

Darron McCully. Photo by F.Cox

 

Letter from Charley

Letter from Charley

Department of Conservation Murihiku Operations Manager, Tony Preston:

“Transporting 18 staff, 65 tonnes of bait and 30 tonnes of fuel across 800 kilometres of southern ocean was just the start of one of the most complex island eradication operations that DOC has ever attempted.   The Antipodes Island Million Dollar Mouse team has done a phenomenal job of completing the operation in our best scenario timeframe.  The detailed planning and careful execution using every window of good weather has paid off in the successful and safe delivery of two bait applications across the island.

We are super proud of this team which includes two staff from Island Conservation and three from helicopter company Island Aerial Solutions.

The Million Dollar Mouse project shows the power of collaboration to achieve what only a decade ago seemed an insurmountable task, and provides lessons as we turn our attention to  the Predator Free New Zealand goal for 2050.  When we work together great things can be achieved.  Thanks heaps to very generous support from our partners: the New Zealand public,  Morgan Foundation, Island Conservation and WWF-New Zealand.”

 

Gareth Morgan, Morgan Foundation:

“It’s a great day, now the Million Dollar Mouse team are returning home from the Antipodes. What started as just an idea during a trip to the subantarctics back in 2012 is now a reality – amazing. And a real tribute to the fine planning and execution that DOC have put together, once again showing their skills in these island eradications. Congratulations to Stephen Horn and the team. Looking forward to hearing your stories.”

 

WWF-New Zealand Executive Director, Chris Howe:

“The ecological gains from island eradications are significant, in relation to the restoration and security of biodiversity. Antipodes Island is an ecological treasure and a World Heritage site, and this mission works to ensure the ecosystem, flora and fauna are protected in the future, including the critically endangered Antipodean wandering albatross. Protecting biodiversity strongholds such as Antipodes Island is a priority for WWF – safeguarding what is left and preventing further loss of species through extinction.”

 

Island Conservation’s Project Director, Richard Griffiths:

We are thrilled that the Antipodes operation went so well and are extremely proud to have been part of the project’s implementation. Island Conservation’s staff who formed part of the project team can return with heads held high. Not only did their expertise contribute to the successful implementation of the project but they also gained significantly from working with a highly skilled team from the Department of Conservation. Friendships formed during the operation will endure beyond the project’s implementation.   

We are now looking forward to discussing plans for removing invasive species from another of NZ’s sub-Antarctic islands (the Auckland Island’s) and hope that the Antipodes mouse eradication will be the catalyst for future collaborations with the NZ Department of Conservation.”

Antipodes pipit

 

Finlay checking mouse tracking station on East Windward._Photo by S. Horn

Finlay checking mouse tracking station on East Windward. Photo by S. Horn

 

Bait drop. Photo by F. Cox

Bait drop. Photo by F. Cox

 

Albatross chick. Photo by F.Cox

Albatross chick. Photo by F.Cox

 

Jose from Island Conservation sorting insects

 

R86920 Chrissy Wickes - MDM Antipodes infographic8

 

 

 

 

 

On their way home!

With everything packed and the operational sites left completely clear, the mouse eradication team left Antipodes today at midday.

Both the Evohe and the Norfolk Guardian are transporting the team and gear back to NZ mainland, with both boats due to arrive on Saturday.

Here are some images from the last 11 weeks, of the Antipodes Island mouse eradication operation.

Team on Evohe ready to head to Antipodes

 

Heli hangar – framework goes up

 

Putting blades on helicopter early morning. Photo by S.Horn

Putting blades on helicopter early morning. Photo by S.Horn

 

Southcoast baiting

Southcoast baiting

Loading one of the 3 helicopters. Photo by F.Cox

Loading one of the 3 helicopters. Photo by F.Cox

 

Loadsite. Photo by K.Springer

 

Antipodes Island parakeet. Photo by F. Cox

 

Finlay on East Windward checking for mice. Photo by S. Horn

Finlay on East Windward checking for mice. Photo by S. Horn

 

Unloading the Norfolk Guardian. Photo by F.Cox

 

Hut site June 2016

Hut site June 2016

 

Baiting. Photo by S.Horn

 

 

Loading. Photo by S.Horn

 

Camp area before hangar set up

 

 

Friday night Antipodes Island

 

Evening planning time. Photo by F. Cox

 

The team ready to depart. Photo by F.Cox

The team ready to depart. Photo by F.Cox

Ready to leave

Both boats arrived at Antipodes over the weekend. With baiting completed, infrastructure dismantled, monitoring finished, the team are ready to depart.

The Evohe and the Norfolk Guardian have returned to the Antipodes to pick up the mouse eradication team and infrastructure.

They need 2 fine days to helicopter all the gear back on board, then they will be leaving Antipodes, their home for the last 68 days.

Helicopters and expert pilots, a vital tool. Photo by F.Cox

Helicopters and expert pilots, a vital tool. Photo by F.Cox

The team ready to depart. Photo by F.Cox

The team. Photo by F.Cox

Deflector bucket run. Photo by K. Springer

Deflector bucket run. Photo by K. Springer

Hut site June 2016

Hut site June 2016

What an extraordinary time it must have been for this team of 13 people to live in such a wild and wonderful place and to complete within the timeframe and against all odds; weather and remoteness, the two bait applications necessary to eradicate mice, the only mammalian introduced predator, from the Antipodes Islands.

We look forward to welcoming them home.

Loadsite. Photo by S.Horn

Loadsite. Photo by S.Horn

Loading. Photo by S.Horn

Loading. Photo by S.Horn

Evening planning g time. Photo by F. Cox

Evening planning. Photo by F. Cox

Baiting. Photo by S.Horn

Baiting. Photo by S.Horn

Monitoring insects and plants

Update on the teams insect and plant monitoring

Written by Stephen Horn – Project Manager

Found on Galloway - Antipodes

Found on Mt. Galloway – Antipodes

Dave Ives pitfall trapping

Also found on Galloway - Antipodes

Also found on Mt.Galloway – Antipodes

Invertebrate monitoring

Invertebrates are an important focus of the monitoring effort as mice have been massively destructive to the unique invertebrate community on the Antipodes. Moths are trapped using a funnel trap which utilises fluorescent lighting activated at night as an attractant. Pitfall traps were set up to capture ground dwelling invertebrates. Pitfall traps were setup 10 m apart and baited with a sweet smelling attractant in a plastic cup, which the insects fall into and are preserved. A plastic lid is positioned a few centimetres above the trap to protect it from rain. Moth light traps and insect pitfall traps were set up in the coastal, mid and upper region of Antipodes Island as well as Bollons and Leeward Island for comparison with sites where mouse impacts are not present. As with bird monitoring, invertebrate sampling has been taking place before and after bait applications so that any subsequent changes in the communities can be documented.

Preliminary results based on pitfall trap sampling, show significant differences in beetle and isopods diversity and abundance between the islands free of mice and Antipodes Island. The results complement and concur with previous studies comparing the fauna of off-shore islands particularly mouse-free Bollons Island and Antipodes Island where the latter has had local extinctions in the invertebrate communities attributed to predation by mice. It is expected that the removal of mice will allow the Antipodes Island ecosystem to recover and invertebrate communities to thrive, resulting in an increase in the diversity, abundance and distribution of the invertebrate fauna.

Vegetation monitoring

Vegetation monitoring

Jose sorting insects

Jose sorting insects

Vegetation Spatial Monitoring

Pests can change vegetation composition as well. Prior to the eradication a satellite image with 2m resolution was acquired from Geo-Eye Imagery. A supervised classification was carried out remotely using expert botanical knowledge to assign regions of interest to a vegetation class. The classification assigns every pixel to the class that is most like the trained region of interests. The classes that were mapped were Soils (a combination of slips, basalt, bare rock), Coastal Poa littorosa, Lichen, Blechnum, Polystichum, Carex ternaria bog (sparse but dominant Carex ternaria with lots of other herby species amongst them), Inland tussock histiopteris (Poa litorosa and lots of low herbaceous vegetation including Histiopteris fern), Carex ternaria valley swamp (very dense tall Carex ternaria with nothing much else), Mixed vegetation and Low herbs. This classification has been groundtruthed by picking areas on the map that were assigned to one of these classes, locating these areas and recording what the true vegetation class was. To compensate for spatial error every sample unit was divided into 4 cells (5x5m) and assigned a value as correct or incorrect. This vegetation map will serve as a baseline for vegetation changes in the coming years due to the mouse eradication.