Project finds no evidence of mice

It is not often a hunt which returns with no success is seen as a win but that has just been the case on Stewart Island.

Environment Southland has completed its hunt for mice on Stewart Island/Rakiura with great results — no evidence of the small rodents detected.

The regional council’s biosecurity and biodiversity operations manager, Ali Meade, said 26 rats were trapped during the project, which began earlier this month.

In 2023, a camera survey undertaken by Predator Free Rakiura showed images of small rodents on the island which could have been mice.

As a result, Environment Southland launched a survey project in the same areas to see if it could determine whether there was an established population of mice present on Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Contractors set up bait stations, traps and cameras at eight sites, which were monitored for two weeks before being removed.

"Most of the rats captured were kiore [Pacific rat]. Some of them are very small, and one was caught in a mouse trap. The images captured by Predator Free Rakiura in 2023 are likely to have been of a small kiore, not of a mouse," she said.

"It’s great that we don’t have evidence of an established population of mice, but we still need everyone to do their part in making sure they don’t accidentally take mice to Stewart Island/Rakiura, as this could have terrible consequences for conservation efforts and, most importantly, our taonga [treasured] species," she said.

It was vital that everyone travelling to Stewart Island/Rakiura and its surrounding islands remained vigilant by thoroughly checking their gear for any unwanted stowaways.