Island mouse-hunt turns $9mn failure — Analysis

A multimillion dollar attempt to eliminate mice from the South Atlantic Gough Island for the sake of endangered seabirds has failed, leaving the island’s conservationists “devastated.”

This remote island was uninhabited and has been designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It served as a refuge for many millions of seabirds for a long period of time. Inadvertently introduced by sailors in 19th-century, mice became a problem and the island was no longer able to provide a nesting site for birds. The rodents began eating chicks, threatening the existence of some species, including the now critically endangered Tristan albatross and the endangered MacGillivray’s prion.

This rapidly deteriorating situation led to the creation of an extensive and complex mice eradication program at a cost estimated at $9.1million, with $5 million of donations.

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Project-eliminate-mice-south-Atlantic-island-fails.htmlOver the summer this year, helicopters spread rodenticide across the island, with land birds temporarily removed into the care of specialists. The operation, branded “This is one of the most difficult island restoration efforts ever attempted,” was considered successful, until Tuesday. On December 14 the Gough Island Restoration Team announced that it was “We are devastated to announce that a single mouse was spotted on the island following an unsuccessful mouse-eradication effort earlier in the year.

The conservationists admit that they are “This news has deeply shocked me” because the removal of every mouse from the island was essential “To prevent more than 2 million eggs and chicks from being lost each year,” and to protect endangered species from extinction. They note that although just one mouse has been spotted so far, their experience tells them “This is unlikely to make it the only one.

Gough Island Restoration Team will monitor and evaluate the situation. 



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