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Joint media release
21 May 2010
Parks and Wildlife Service staff and contractors will leave Hobart tonight on the Aurora Australis for the voyage to Macquarie Island to begin the operational phase of the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project.
The trip to the Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area, 1500 kilometres southeast of Tasmania, is the culmination of years of planning for the project; which is aimed at eradicating the large numbers of rabbits, black rats and house mice that have caused significant degradation of the natural environment on this very special island.
The $24.6 million project has been jointly funded by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments. Peregrine Adventures and the World Wildlife Fund have also contributed an additional $100,000 towards the success of this project.
“The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have been working together to protect the outstanding universal values of Macquarie Island,” the Federal Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett said.
“This project will be the largest in the world to eradicate rabbits and rodents and is the result of extensive planning.
“It is based on proven techniques including aerial baiting and hunting with highly trained dogs.
“Every effort has been taken to negate possible impacts on native wildlife and the environment: for example, the aerial baiting is scheduled for winter when most native species have left the island.”
Tasmanian Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, David O’Byrne, said: “It’s very exciting to see this project come to fruition.
“I am very proud to be Tasmania’s Environment Minister and to be seeing off this team on a project of truly international significance.
“A place as significant as Macquarie Island deserves to be restored to its natural beauty and functioning as an ecosystem free of introduced pests.
“I recognise that the task ahead on Macquarie is a big one and will require skill, dedication and determination; particularly given the difficult terrain, the time of year, and the sub-Antarctic conditions facing the team.
“I have every confidence the team will succeed and that this project will help to build the capacity of our conservation management agencies to conduct further eradication projects in the future.”
A team of about 20 staff, four helicopters, helicopter pilots and 305 tonnes of the bait brodifacoum are travelling to Macquarie Island. Aerial distribution of the bait will begin once the helicopters, bait and supplies are off-loaded from the Aurora Australis.
Trained hunting dogs and their handlers will travel to the island in August, to begin the second phase of the operation.