Macquarie Island

Subject: Macquarie Island
From: "R Clarke" <>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2007 15:06:10 +1000
Hi All,

I was lucky enough to work on Macquarie Island for a summer season in
To put this program into some sort of perspective the island is just under
13,000 ha in size. It is around 35 km in length and at its widest is
approaching 5.5 km in width. The island has extremely step slopes, many of
them consisting of scree, cliffs, large areas of tussock (where it hasn?t
been eaten out by rabbits), numerous caves and plenty of offshore rock
stacks. In places the island is riddled with seabird burrows (all but the
grey petrel are summer breeders). These habitats mean there are plenty of
locations where a wily rabbit can seek refuge (one of the ~5% likely to
remain after aerial baiting).

On top of this there is no terrestrial vehicle access, so everything must be
done on foot or with helicopters. Additionally, to avoid times when the
island supports huge breeding colonies of wildlife all of the helicopter
baiting operations will be undertaken in the 'winter' months of May and
September. Logistically, these are not the best times to work with
helicopters on an island that is well known for its persistent drizzle and

Given this, the eradication program is a mammoth undertaking, far bigger
than most people appreciate and not without some risk of failure. The
agencies that are supporting it really need to be congratulated for biting
the bullet (pun intended).

Rohan Clarke

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