Million Dollar Mouse bait drops completed
The Million Dollar Mouse pest eradication project on the remote Antipodes Island has been completed ahead of schedule.
In less than a month, Department of Conservation staff dropped more than 65 tonnes of rodent bait on the remote sub-Antarctic island in an effort to eradicate an estimated 200,000 mice living on the island.
Mice are the only introduced predator on the island, which is home to species such as the Reischek's and Antipodes Island parakeets, snipe and pipit and thousands of seabirds and marine mammals.
A second helicopter drop of rodent bait across the island was finished yesterday afternoon, following a first application of bait completed on June 29.
DOC Antipodes Mouse Eradication project manager Stephen Horn said there was a great sense of excitement amongst the team after completing the operation, as well as some relief.
"There have been significant challenges even just getting to the island so to have completed the baiting in the timeframe that we did is very satisfying."
The team have given themselves the best opportunity to achieve the eradication of mice from the Antipodes Island, Horn said.
"It is a matter of wait and see for a couple of years for us to be sure."
The second application of bait for the island took about 13 hours spread during three days, with two helicopters working simultaneously, Horn said.
The team started spreading bait for application two on July 8, and completed the last load on July 12 at 1.16pm.
Horn never anticipated the team would complete the operation this quickly.
"This is a best case scenario in reality and a certain amount of luck has been involved with the weather opportunities that presented themselves."
The team were having the day off on Wednesday then they would start organising the gear to head home.
"The loads to go off need to be consolidated and the infrastructure deconstructed and bundled up ready to fly off when the ship arrives."
The cargo ship Norfolk Guardian which would pick up the team and equipment was expected to depart Auckland around July 26, arriving at the island about the end of the month subject to the weather, Horn said.
Total eradication of mice cannot be confirmed until a monitoring team visit the island in 2018, he said.