UPDATE - Lord Howe Island Rodent Control

To: "'Simon Mustoe'" <>, <>
Subject: UPDATE - Lord Howe Island Rodent Control
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 09:21:53 +1000
Thanks for organizing a response from Ian Hutton, Simon. The predicted
long-term outcomes of the rodent control plan seem very encouraging.

It would be good if a link to the second draft of the plan is made available
to Birding-aus once the document becomes available for public review. I'm
sure that there would be quite a few Birding-aussers who would like to
comment on the draft.

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde NSW 

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Simon Mustoe
Sent: Monday, 29 June 2009 8:57 AM
Subject: UPDATE - Lord Howe Island Rodent Control


It was about time this forum sought some more direct advice on the situation
regarding rodent control, Woodhens and other endemics on Lord Howe. I am
sorry I didn't do this before (thanks Chris for prompting me). 

Ian Hutton has very kindly sent me information to post to birding-aus
(below) and has kindly offered to send me updates as things progress, which
I will of course pass on immediately. 

The consultation process for this exercise has clearly failed to some degree
but you will be pleased to know, there will be other opportunities. I am
surprised to hear that the plan is already in its second round of review and
has been commented on by Birds Australia, who have been notably silent
during our discussions. Yet again, can I please appeal on behalf of other
birders (most of whom will be Birds Australia members) that we find out
about such issues? It hardly needs to be spelt out, the importance of
engaging members, especially where there potentially serious direct
consequences for birding and birders both in Australia and visiting from

I have told Ian that there has been very favourable discussion about the
venture on birding-aus and I am sure it will get support from all. The main
concern clearly is about lack of communication and due process. I will do
everything I can to forward information on when I hear about it but it
sounds as though there will be a final public exhibition period at some
stage. Perhaps this forum could be used to collate ideas and submit on
behalf of Australian birders That way the project will get the kind of broad
community engagement it seeks when it approaches the conservation


Simon Mustoe. 



The situation is that in 2001 a 
feasibility study was undertaken into eradication of rodents from 
Lord Howe Island.
Since then DECC NSW and the LHI 
Board have been progressing a plan, along the techniques developed and
over the past 30 years by NZ DOC. This is basically using a cereal pellet 
containing the anticoagulant brodifacoum to kill rats and mice. Over the
past 30 
years about 300 islands worldwide have been treated using these techniques.
ensure each and every rat receives a bait, pellets are distributed by a 
combination of hand spreading and aerial dropping from a helicopter.
learned from each eradication project has refined the techniques, and
islands as 
large as subantarctic Campbell Island (11,000 ha) have been successfully 
treated. Studies associated with these program have shown that in the short
some bird numbers may drop (those that would eat a pellet or scavengers that

would eat a dead rat or mouse); in the long term all bird numbers on treated

islands have risen dramatically. Also to benefit are lizards, snails,
plants, just about anything rats eat have increased in numbers after
eradication programs. 
No one wants to see any birds 
killed, but if an eradication program is not done, each and every night rats

remain on Lord Howe Island dozens of birds and 
hundreds of insects, seeds etc are eaten and will continue to be eaten.
The situation as it stands for 
Lord Howe Island, is that April 2009, a draft 
eradication plan was completed and sent out to various bodies for comment.
bodies included Birds Australia, IUCN, WWF, NZ DOC, Landcare Research NZ.
The comments have been received 
and are being amalgamated into a second draft plan, for release to the
public shortly with plenty of time to comment.
While I have not actually seen 
the first draft plan, it is my understanding that if the eradication plan
was to 
go ahead there would be measures to protect the endemic birds that may be at

risk. Figures being talked about are that half the Woodhen population and
the LHI Currawong population would be caught and kept in captivity here on 
Lord Howe Island for a period of 100 days or 
until the pellets disintegrate. As research into this captive holding of
(if the program goes ahead) there would be trials holding about 30 of each
one year prior- to ascertain problems that may be encountered - and fix
before the real thing one year later (possibly winter 2011). To manage this 
captive holding program, world's best experts will be enlisted.
The eradication plan for 
Lord Howe Island will not go ahead unless all 
safeguards can be met to ensure no affect on human population, and minimal 
affect on birds (and other animals). If it does proceed, the best
experience and advice will be used. 


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