Mice have been on Antipodes Island for a century now, but this month marks the beginning of the end for them. 65 tonnes of bait will be shortly transported to the island for the eradication five years in planning to commence. The New Zealand Department of Conservation has put together an infographic which provides all the key information to convey the enormity of the task ahead. This eradication is important because of the strong impact mice have been shown to have on the islands ecosystem, particularly its invertebrate community. The NZ DOC are also mandated by their Conservation Management Strategy to remove mice from the island as soon as it becomes feasible, and that time is now.
This invasive mammal eradication is certainly the most logistically complicated ever undertaken in New Zealand. As part of the five years planning the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration funded an expedition specifically to understand how the island ecosystem functioned in the depths of winter, critical information for planning the eradication.
It is hoped that successful eradication of mice from Antipodes Island will pave the way for future mouse eradications on critical islands where they have negative impacts such as Gough Island (UK), Marion Island (South Africa) and the Farallon Islands (USA). Auckland Island will then be the only subantarctic island in the Australasian region where invasive mammals remain, and it will then be the turn of other countries to eradicate invasive mammals from their own subantarctic islands, such as the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.