Antipodes Mouse Eradication. Was it successful?

helicopter baiting Antipodes

Baiting the south coast of Antipodes Island, 2016

After 18 long months, the wait is finally over. In just over one week’s time, a team is heading back to the Antipodes Islands to discover the outcome of the Million Dollar Mouse project.

Million Dollar Mouse is one of the largest ever attempts to eradicate mice anywhere in the world. Mice can be voracious predators, and with Antipodes Island being internationally recognised as a World Heritage site for outstanding natural values – including being home to unique and vulnerable birds, insects and plant species – the resident mice estimated at 200,000 needed to go.

The Department of Conservation(DOC) worked with funding partners the Morgan Foundation, WWF-New Zealand, Island Conservation and the public to deliver an eradication project in winter 2016. Now, 18 months and almost two mice breeding seasons later, DOC is able to determine whether the eradication was successful.  As with any eradication, success cannot be guaranteed.

Our monitoring team will spend three weeks scouring the island for signs of mice and with three conservation dogs recruited to the task, we’re sure it’ll be a very thorough search indeed.

The New Zealand Defence Force are helping out with Operation Endurance by transporting the 10 strong monitoring team down to the Antipodes Islands.

Watch this space for live updates from the island and follow our journey.

 

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.

Visit the FB page for more


 

Monitoring Results

Monitoring results will be published, as part of the Project Report, on the MDM website and the DOC website in Spring 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