A major pest control operation that has required three years of planning is underway in the Antipodes Island, one of the Sub-Antarctic Islands UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Called ‘Million Dollar Mouse’, the project is one of the most complex island eradication operations ever attempted by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It has faced a number of logistical challenges, including the island’s remote location, unpredictable weather and lack of harbour for shelter when loading and unloading ships. Despite this, DOC has managed to transport 18 staff, 65 tonnes of bait and 30 tonnes of fuel across 800 kilometres of Southern Ocean. The safe delivery of two bait applications across the island has involved detailed planning and careful execution, using every window of good weather.
The Antipodes Island has bird and plant life that are unique to these islands, especially endemic albatrosses, cormorants, land birds and ‘megaherbs’. Pest eradication is therefore a critical element in protecting Outstanding Universal Values of the property – a requirement under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The outcomes will be monitored closely in the coming years.
Photo: Bulbinella Rossii (endemic megaherb of the Subantarctic Islands). Credit: M & G Therin-Weise