Springer, K. 2014. Pest Eradication on Macquarie Island. Australia's State of the Islands Report. Pp. 70-80.
Invasive vertebrate species have been present on Macquarie Island for over 200 years, and have had devastating impacts on flora, fauna and landforms. Weka (Gallirallus australis) were successfully eradicated by 1989 and feral cats (Felis catus) by 2001. Planning for the eradication of ship rats (Rattus rattus), house mice (Mus musculus) and European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) began in 2004. Funding of AUD$24.7M was secured in 2007 for a multi-year project based on aerial baiting that targeted rabbits and rodents, followed by hunting of any surviving rabbits. Following three years of planning, the first aerial baiting attempt in 2010 was abandoned after two months due to unfavourable weather and shipping delays. The degree of non-target seabird species mortality from the limited baiting in 2010 lead to a renewed examination of non-target mitigation options. Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) was introduced in February 2011, to reduce the pre-baiting rabbit population and thus minimise non-target mortality amongst scavenging seabirds. Aerial baiting resumed in May 2011 using four AS350 helicopters and a team of 27 people, and was completed by July 2011. No rodents have been detected post-baiting and the estimated rabbit population in excess of 150,000 has been reduced to less than an estimated 30 at the conclusion of baiting. Some rabbits were expected to survive baiting, and the hunting phase commenced in July 2011 using a team of 15 hunters and 12 dogs. By December 2011thirteen rabbits had been accounted for. Hunting efforts are ongoing, and together with a monitoring phase are planned to continue for five years. A minimum of two years monitoring for rabbits will be conducted. Continued effort each year will be based on annual progress reviews. Rodent detection dogs will deploy in 2013 to assist in determining rodent eradication success. After one summer since baiting, vegetation recovery is already evident and increased burrow-nesting seabird activity has also been observed in the first breeding season postbaiting.