Project to remove invasive rodents from Lord Howe Island and protect native wildlife is complete.
Lord Howe Island might be the last place one would expect to find invasive rodents, but since 1850 invasive mice have scurried around the island and were followed by invasive rats in 1918. In their wake, native and endemic wildlife suffered even causing the local extinction of some of the world’s rarest species.
The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for iconic species including the Lord Howe Island stick insect which was driven to extinction on its namesake island by invasive rats and only survives on a nearby Ball Pyramid Island and in captivity. To restore the island, its native ecosystems, as well as Endangered and Critically Endangered wildlife, conservationists developed a plan to remove invasive rodents. The restoration will join the more than 1200 invasive species removal projects that have been conducted on islands around the world.
In late October, the Lord Howe Island Board officially completed the coordinated removal of invasive rodents which began in June. Peter Adams, chief executive of the board is confident that the operation was implemented successfully, but it will be at least two years until this can be officially confirmed.
During implementation, two endemic bird species were taken into captivity at the Sydney’s Taronga Zoo as a precautionary measure. The endemic Currawongs, a subspecies of the Australian Currawong, have all been re-released. The Woodhens which were brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1980s will be released later this month.
Conservationists and invasive species removal experts are eager to see the island recover and native animals thrive. Once declared successful, Lord Howe will be one of only a few inhabited islands around the world to be rid of all invasive vertebrates.
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