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Fresh hunting team heads to Macquarie Island


A fresh hunting team will join an Australian Antarctic Division resupply voyage to Macquarie Island next week to continue efforts in one of the world’s largest island pest eradication projects.

The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman offered his congratulations to the team, and is optimistic about the island’s continuing recovery.

“Although there’s still a lot to be done, the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project team has made a fantastic effort to get to this point. No rats or mice have been seen since June 2011, and the last sign of rabbits was in December 2011,” Mr. Wightman said.

“There are obvious signs of regeneration on Macquarie Island since the rabbit population was decimated after the completion of aerial baiting in July 2011, including prolific regrowth of tussock and mega-herbs.

“More than 100 hundred active blue petrel burrows have been found on the main island this year, after struggling to breed on off-shore islands as a result of rat predation. We believe there are still a small number of rabbits surviving, so it’s vital that the team perseveres with the hunting effort.”

The new team of nine hunters has undergone training to replace the existing team on the island. Of the current team, four members were selected to remain on the island. A veterinarian will travel to the island to conduct a medical check on the hunting dogs which have been on the island since last April.

The hunting team will spend the next 12 months scouring the island to locate and remove any surviving rabbits. Field work to complete rabbit eradication is expected to take up to four years.

The Macquarie Island Pest Eradication project is funded by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and aims to eradicate rabbits and rodents from the remote island 1500 kilometres south-east of Tasmania.