Monday, 14 April 2014

The Macquarie Island Pest Eradication project has been declared a success.

The project to eradicate rabbits and rodents from Macquarie Island is a conservation achievement of worldwide significance. The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Matthew Groom said a rigorous monitoring program, which followed baiting, had not detected a rabbit, rat or mouse in more than two years.

"The program is the world's largest island eradication for these three pest species and it has been an unqualified success," Mr Groom said. "In 2007, the Australian and Tasmanian Governments announced they would jointly fund the $25 million project to eradicate rabbits, rats and mice from the World Heritage listed island. "Australia can rightly be very proud of this outstanding result. It is exciting to see an ecosystem which suffered significant degradation due to pest species for more than 100 years, firmly on the road to recovery.

"Pest eradication is costly, as it requires the removal of every last individual of a species, but in the long run is far cheaper than ongoing pest control." Mr Groom said the island's considerable size of 12,785 hectares, and its location 1500 kilometres southeast of Tasmania in the sub-Antarctic, presented incredible logistical challenges. "Meticulous planning was required to meet these challenges and to minimise the impact on non-target species," Mr Groom said.

"The project's success has been an incredible feat of persistence and dedication by the hunters and dog handlers from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service." "They have scoured the island intensively, walking 90,000 km, more than two times the earth's circumference, in their efforts to locate any surviving individual pests." "While it may take a decade or more for the island's ecosystem to achieve equilibrium following the removal of the pest species, there are already significant signs of recovery in terms of vegetation and bird species.

"It was expected that up to 24 bird species will benefit from the eradication project, and signs of increased breeding success of some species are encouraging." Mr Groom said biosecurity measures for all shipping to the island have been improved in a joint program between the Australian Antarctic Division and the Parks and Wildlife Service.

See TV interview at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-08/macquarie-island-pest-free/5374870