Aerial Eradication Tour
including update on Kaikoura Island eradication
by Jo Ritchie


Recently I helped host a group of people from overseas who came to New Zealand to get first hand experience of how we undertake aerial baiting operations to eradicate rodents. The tour was jointly organised and funded by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK (RSPB) and the Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII), a New Zealand/South Pacific islands initiative to establish more effective efforts to manage invasive species.
Participants came from the most amazing places: Tristan da Cunha, Goff and Ascension Islands (South Atlantic) and the Falklands, as well as from Samoa, Australia and the United Kingdom.
All of them have issues with rodents some because they have eradicated cats and now rats are uncontrolled and are impacting on seabirds, as on Ascension and Tristan. On Goff Island a winter survey of petrels found mice weighing up to 55g (fair dinkum!!) eating chicks alive. On Macquarie Island (off the coast of Tasmania), rodents and rabbits have combined to turn a stunning sub-Antarctic island into a virtual desert.
New Zealand is a world leader in the area of rodent eradications and particularly as they relate to their removal from offshore islands. Participants visited a number of sites where eradications have been undertaken, are currently being undertaken or are planned. These included Korapuki Island off the Coromandel coast, Maungatautari Ecological Island in the Waikato, Tawharanui Regional Park and Glenfern sanctuary.
We met with a wide range of people including D.o.C specialists, Skywork Helicopters and Auckland Regional Council staff. A highlight was a powhiri at Motairehe organised by Bruce Davies and Hope Munro, the purpose of which was to introduce people to Maori environmental issues and experience a marae visit. While on Great Barrier, participants also visited Little Windy Hill and Glenfern Sanctuary. It is hoped that we will participate in more of these joint international efforts in the future.

UPDATE ON SCHEDULED KAIKOURA ERADICATION
The short version is: not done! The fabulously consistent bad weather has outdone itself and not only affected the barging of the bait to the island but the drop itself. As of late July, the bait is now on the island but the drop has not happened. Im not asking for much we need a minimum of two fine nights before and after the drop in order for bait to stay fresh on the ground in a condition where it is irresistible to rats.
Id like to take this opportunity to recognise the hard work of Will Scarlett, Stan McGeady and Dave Ericsson in their efforts to eradicate the last of the fallow deer. To date fallow deer have not been successfully eradicated from anywhere in New Zealand so it will be a very big achievement when (not if) they are successful.