In recent years rabbit damage to vegetation on Macquarie Island increased significantly, resulting in serious vegetation changes and impacting on burrowing seabirds that require vegetation cover around their breeding habitat. Rodents were also having a significant impact on the island, with ship rats in particular eating the eggs and chicks of burrow-nesting petrels.
Consequently, the unique natural values of this remote sub-Antarctic island which led to its World Heritage listing were being threatened by these introduced animals. The eradication of these animals is now the highest conservation priority for the reserve.
The project is the largest island eradication program for rabbits, rats or mice ever attempted, and one of the largest conservation projects in Tasmania. Baiting of the island was completed in July 2011.