The Fiordland Conservation Trust and former Fiordland business owners Ruth Dalley and Lance Shaw, with help from a range of supporting funders, have successfully eradicated rats and mice the last remaining pests on Indian Island in Dusky Sound.
The 170 ha Island near the outer edge of Dusky Sound is the fourth of six main islands in Dusky Sound to have a predator control programme to remove introduced mammals.
Pest control on Indian Island first began in 2000 when the Department of Conservation established a successful stoat and deer eradication programme. Resident mice and rats however remained on the island until Fiordland Ecology Holidays and their extensive network came to the rescue in 2010. The group included one major off shore benefactor, along with generous contributions from Lucy Bellerby, Ian & Jenny Willans and Ultimate Hikes. This team of people have continued to be involved in the project assisting with establishing and checking traps and tracking tunnels over the two year period. Since the eradication, not a single mouse, rat or stoat has been captured in the traps, which means that the island is now considered to be predator free.
Ms Dalley and Mr Shaw said they were delighted to hear this news and will remain involved as surveillance continues.
Ms Dalley said that prior to selling their business ‘Fiordland Ecology Holidays’ they wanted to ‘thank’ Fiordland for 16 years of running tourism, media and scientific research trips. Through their business they set up a fund to support research. This was financed through donations from passengers and from a percentage of their annual income. This is the fourth island in Fiordland that they have been financially and logistically involved in with the eradication of pests.
Fiordland Conservation Trust Chairman Murray Willans said it is a real privilege to be involved in this project in a very special part of New Zealand. He acknowledges that like any island pest eradication, this project will require ongoing pest surveillance. “It will also provide an opportunity to re-establish some of New Zealand's special threatened species” he said, “as well as protecting the species that are already present there”. Removing pests from Indian Island also provides another buffer for protecting Anchor Island (which is home to Kakapo) from pests.
Rachel Cockburn, FCT Trust Manager said, “It is fantastic to finally be able to declare this Island ‘Pest Free’, after years of work and the financial and practical involvement of a neat group of people. This project is very special to the Trust, as it is the first Island eradication project we have undertaken and an incredible process to go through for all involved. We are grateful to all those who have given time and money to assist with this project – the achievement belongs to a large group of people who should all be justifiably proud of what has been accomplished.
The Department of Conservation control deer to low levels on Indian Island. This is allowing the native vegetation to re-establish. It is a relatively unmodified island, with a healthy cover of native forest, but is missing many species from its natural ecosystem. The expectation is that these will be able to return following the removal of predators.