New Zealand (University of Auckland) Making New Zealand’s subantarctic islands pest free

The groundwork has been laid for finishing the job, says Professor James Russell.

special issue of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology has highlighted successes in eradicating introduced mammals from our subantarctic islands, and the potential to do more.

Edited by Professor James Russell of Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, the publication documents ecological recoveries after eradications on five islands and research on Auckland Island to inform eradication planning.

“The lessons are important for the Predator Free 2050 programme and also for other eradication campaigns on islands around the world.”

One of the major lessons was that mice could be eradicated in summer and using very small amounts of toxic bait, both of which are not usual practice. That’s encouraging for the prospects for a successful campaign on Auckland Island where one of the difficulties is the island’s large size.

The Department of Conservation and Ngāi Tahu have been investigating the feasibility of in future eradicating pigs, feral cats and mice from Auckland Island, New Zealand’s only subantarctic island where pests remain.

It would be the biggest and most complex eradication job yet undertaken. In preparation, DOC researchers have been testing thermal cameras, traps and baits.

On Antipodes Island, the island with the most recent eradication campaign, snipe and pipit numbers more than doubled over six years. Antipodes and Reischek’s parakeets also rebounded.