Mice eradication fund nears halfway mark
A public campaign to raise $1million to eradicate mice from the Antipodes Islands is nearing the halfway mark.
The Million Dollar Mouse Project, established by New Zealand businessman and philanthropist Gareth Morgan and administered by the Conservation Department, is aiming to use the money to rid the sub-antarctic Antipodes of their only introduced species.
The Morgan Foundation has pledged to match any donations from the public and since the project launch in early April, nearly $475,000 has been raised.
DOC Southern Islands area manager Andy Roberts said the project was a great example of how a partnership between DOC and outside parties could contribute to important conservation work.
"The Antipodes Islands are very remote and any work on the islands would be very costly to DOC," he said. "With the involvement of Mr Morgan, the public and the department, hopefully we can raise enough money to eradicate the mice on the Antipodes Islands and help re-establish a predator free breeding ground for many important sea bird species."
Located more than 800 kilometres south east of Bluff, the islands have a huge amount of biodiversity and without the mice would provide a safe habitat for several endangered birds including the rare Antipodes Island Parakeet, Mr Roberts said.
"Mice are the only pest on the islands and they eat the eggs and chicks of seabirds," he said.
"They also eat huge numbers of insects and the seeds of plants that are critical to the health of the islands and a food source for the native species."
DOC hopes to undertake a trial baiting period next summer with a full scale eradication program scheduled for the winter of 2014.
"There are several challenges including the distance involved and the habits of the mice," Mr Roberts said. "Mice can be choosier in what they eat, and they have a small homing range, which makes baiting a little bit tougher."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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