Mouse seen following Gough Island eradication attempt
The RSPB has revealed that a single mouse has been seen on Gough Island following the recent attempted eradication programme.
The news that a mouse had seen on surveillance equipment comes as a devastating blow to conservationists' hopes that the baiting programme might have eradicated the invasive rodents, which have been known to predate seabird eggs and chicks. Even adult Tristan Albatrosses are not exempt, with a 35-year-old albatross confirmed as predated by mice earlier in 2021.
Introduced mice on Gough Island have reduced Tristan Albatross numbers to just 2,000 pairs (RSPB).
Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB said: "This was one of the most ambitious island restoration programmes ever attempted, bringing together experts from around the world to protect globally endangered seabirds in what many would consider one of the most remote and difficult to reach locations on Earth. With over a decade of planning and given the logistics involved, this has been the conservation equivalent of landing on the Moon.
"We needed to take this urgent action to save millions of eggs and chicks from predation, prevent extinctions and to undo the damage caused by mice which humans unwittingly allowed onto the island in the past. We are confident that through this partnership we put everything in place to give the project the best chance of being successful. Although only one mouse has been sighted so far, unfortunately experience would tell us that it is unlikely to be the only one.
"Although it appears we have fallen short of our target, it is too early to know what this means or just how much time we might have bought the seabirds of Gough. We are continuing to monitor the island and assess the situation. The situation at Gough and threat to the unique seabirds of this island only serve to underline the importance of effective biosecurity measures on currently predator-free islands to prevent invasive species arriving in the first place and devastating native wildlife, and the need for island restoration projects to protect affected species from extinction."