Saving an island’s ecosystem

This is exceptionally good news:

New Zealand has declared victory in its bid to eradicate mice from a remote group of islands, in a project that could spell hope around the world for species threatened by predators introduced by man.

It’s very rare for people to manage to eliminate a dangerous introduced species from an island before the island’s native fauna is utterly devastated. This may be the first time anybody managed it. This was a kind of mouse that was destroying bird chicks and eggs, invertebrates, and plants. Eradication took five years.

Million Dollar Mouse, part-funded by a public crowd-funding campaign, aimed to continue the work of other eradication projects around New Zealand, and involved a team setting up camp on the islands, air drops of pesticides from three helicopters, culminating in a month-long search involving trained dogs for any remaining pests, Radio NZ says.

According to a feature on the islands, the mice likely arrived on ships belonging to sealers, and drove at least two local species to extinction. If the project hadn’t tackled the rodents they “would have spelled doom for many of the species there.”

They sure would. I’m sure these mice were about as dangerous to the native fauna and flora as rats, which are the very worst species to introduce to islands.

New Zealand is feeling its oats after this success:

New Zealand’s government has pledged to rid the country of all invasive species by the year 2050, and Million Dollar Mouse has now become a model for this hugely ambitious programme to clear predators island-by-island.

The Predator Free 2050 project has been backed by both government and conservationists alike, and seeks to rid the whole country of stoats, rats and possums within the next three decades.

Wow. Hugely ambitious is right. Good luck to them.

I don’t know which single invasive species I would most like to remove from the Americas, but if anyone wanted to crowd-source an effort to eradicate starlings, I’d contribute.

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2 thoughts on “Saving an island’s ecosystem”

  1. Very impressive–eliminating small rodents is extremely difficult, eclipsed only by insect species.
    Speaking as someone who loves west coast fruit, I’d like to see Drosophila Suzukii eliminated, or at least reduced to the role of a minor pest.

  2. Insects are definitely the hardest! Your Drosophila are probably hopeless. So are those beautiful-but-awful Japanese beetles that in some years are so destructive here in MO.

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