“A visitor to the island has told DOC he saw, what he believes to be a mouse, while walking on Ridge Track on Tiritiri Matangi,” says DOC Auckland Inner Islands Operations Manager Keith Gell.
“A rodent detecting conservation dog and its handler investigated the possible sighting. The dog indicated to its handler, that she smelt a mouse, about 30 metres from the spot where the visitor believes he saw a mouse.”
“We need to know if there is, or isn’t, a mouse on Tiritiri Matangi. So, we’re setting up a response effort to determine if a mouse has made it to the island,’’ says Keith Gell.
Tiritiri Matangi has been free of animal pests, including mice, since 1993. It’s home to a wide range of native birds including takahē, kiwi pukupuku/little spotted kiwi and kōkako. There are also tuatara, wetapunga and five types of native lizard on Tiritiri Matangi.
Mice eat the chicks of native birds and destroy their eggs by puncturing the shells. Mice also eat native lizards and native insects that provide food for native birds. And they eat native plants stopping them from regenerating and depriving native birds of food.
To find out if there is a mouse on Tiritiri Matangi, DOC is establishing a 200-metre radius detection zone around the site of the possible mouse sighting. Within this zone, rangers are placing devices to detect a mouse. The devices are being placed 25 metres apart and will blanket the zone.
The detection devices include 300 mouse traps; 500 detection tunnels, with ink pads that record a mouse’s foot prints, if it walks through the tunnel; and, 200 chew cards, that record a mouse’s teeth marks, if it bites the card. The traps, tunnels and chew cards are baited with peanut butter or white chocolate buttons, which are proven to attract mice.
“We’ll also be using one of the pest detection dogs, from the Conservation Dogs Programme supported by Kiwibank, as part of this operation to determine if there is a mouse on Tiritiri Matangi,” says Keith Gell.
DOC works in partnership with Auckland Council to protect the pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
“We have biosecurity systems in place, to protect these pest-free sanctuaries, because there’s an ever-present risk of a pest making it to one of these islands,” says Keith Gell.
“As part of our biosecurity systems, we’ve activated this plan to determine if a mouse has made it to Tiritiri Matangi.”
“We’re also reminding the public to be aware of the ongoing risk of an unwanted pest, like a mouse, accompanying them when they travel to a pest-free island,” says Keith Gell.