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Flags fly at Mount Nelson once again


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Early withdrawal of Macquarie Island Pest Eradication team


Unseasonal weather on Macquarie Island during June and July has hampered efforts to complete aerial baiting for the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project and resulted in the decision to stop the baiting program for this year. 

Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, David O’Byrne, said that it was planned that baiting of the island would be completed within three months of the team arriving on the island in late May, however by late July it became apparent that this would not be possible.

“While the sub-Antarctic winter weather was always going to be a challenge and a known risk, an unusual weather pattern during the past six weeks has concentrated a succession of low pressure systems into a relatively narrow band of latitude around 50-60 degrees south. This pattern has increased wind speeds and this, combined with low cloud, has meant that the helicopters have been able to fly on only a few days in June and no days in July,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“These conditions have resulted in the team being able to deliver only eight per cent of the bait quantity required for a successful eradication effort.

“The decision to withdraw the team was based on their judgment that there was an increased risk of being unable to complete the baiting to an extent that it would jeopardize the success of eradication of rabbits, ship rats and house mice.

“Another critical factor is the increased risk of impacts on species native to Macquarie Island if the aerial baiting continued into the late winter months. The program was carefully planned to minimise the impact on native species, most of which leave the island during the winter months but start to return in late August.

“The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have been working together to protect the outstanding universal values of Macquarie Island and remain committed to seeing the island restored to its natural beauty and functioning as an ecosystem free of introduced pests,” Mr O’Byrne said.

The $24.6 million project has been jointly funded by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments. Peregrine Adventures and the World Wildlife Fund have also contributed an additional $100,000 towards the project.