A remote and windswept archipelago in New Zealand's Subantarctic islands has been formally declared mouse free, following one of the most sophisticated pest-eradication projects undertaken anywhere in the world.
The Antipodes Islands, which lie about 760 km south-east of Bluff, on New Zealand's South Island, were once home to around 200,000 mice that preyed on bird chicks and eggs, invertebrates, and plants. The impact was enough to alter the biodiversity of the 2,100 ha island group, recognised as a World Heritage site for its outstanding natural values.
Fears had grown after mice were observed eating large seabird chicks alive in their nests on two south Atlantic islands. It wasn't known whether that was happening on the Antipodes, but this was a behavioural shift that was seen as a risk for all 25 of the bird species breeding there.
However, as of 21 March, that threat no longer exists – the islands have been formally declared mouse-free by the Department of Conservation's Island Eradication Advisory Group.