An expedition to the Auckland Islands

Brent Barrett is part of a Department of Conservation expedition investigating the feasibility of eradicating pigs, cats and mice from Auckland Island (Maukahuka) in the New Zealand subantarctic island region.

The Auckland Islands are an archipelago of New Zealand, lying 465 kilometres south of Stewart Island. The main Auckland Island is surrounded by smaller Adams Island, Enderby Island, Disappointment Island, Ewing Island, Rose Island, Dundas Island, and Green Island.

At 50,000 hectares, Auckland Island is the only island within the New Zealand Subantarctic Island Area with invasive mammalian pests. Currently it holds large populations of wild cats, pigs and mice; all of which have devastating effects on the wildlife, flora and landscape.

Two large islands around the main Auckland Island are free from animal pests and are a model of how pest eradication can achieve ecological recovery.  The Department of Conservation winter expedition seeks to understand the viability of conducting an island-wide eradication program to permanently remove the three invasive species from the area.

A 12-person team will spend the next 3-6 weeks on Auckland island, stationed on three field bases.  These Islands are only accessible by boat and the journey will take 36 – 40hrs across the wild Southern Ocean.

Biosecurity consultant Brent Barrett from the Christchurch office is a member of the northernmost team, situated at Deas Head in Port Ross.  Brent’s expertise in using trail cameras to monitor wildlife interactions and previous experience in cat and rodent monitoring and control are the key attributes that recommended him for team inclusion.

Brent was also one of the five team members of an expedition in 1998 that remained on the island for three months over winter to study whales.  This remains the longest winter expedition to this area since 1970.  His familiarity with extreme field conditions, remote hut living and survival training will essential tools for this three week trip.

Port Ross is the site of the largest and most important whale breeding grounds in New Zealand waters.  As whales they breed in winter they will be present in large numbers when the team are operating in the area. Brent will report from the expedition periodically as it unfolds.

 

For further information please contact Brent Barrett

12 August 2019