Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Ecological Restoration of sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island

Springer, K. Ecological Restoration of sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

Invasive vertebrate species have had devastating impacts on the flora, fauna and landforms of Macquarie Island over a period of 200 years. Following the successful eradication of weka (Gallirallus australis) 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 targeting rabbits and rodents followed by ground hunting targeting surviving rabbits. The first aerial baiting attempt in 2010 was abandoned due to unfavourable weather and shipping delays. The degree of non-target seabird species mortality from 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 of 150,000 has been reduced to fewer than 30 at the conclusion of baiting The rabbit hunting phase commenced in July 2011 using a team of 15 hunters and 12 dogs and is ongoing, with thirteen rabbits accounted for. Hunting and monitoring is expected to take a total of five years post-baiting and will be based on annual progress reviews. A minimum of two years monitoring will be conducted. Rodent detection dogs will deploy in 2013 to assist in determining rodent eradication success.
Six months after baiting, vegetation recovery was already evident and increased burrownesting seabird activity has also been observed in the first breeding season post-baiting.

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