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Gareth Morgan backs $1m mice plan

Published: 9:04PM Wednesday March 28, 2012 Source: ONE News

New Zealand philanthropist Gareth Morgan will spearhead a fundraising campaign to remove mice from the Antipodes Islands, 800 kilometres south-east of Bluff.

The Antipodes are home to a wide range of rare wildlife, birds and plants including the wandering albatross, the Antipodes snipe and parakeet.

Fresh from his Our Far South expedition to Antarctica and the subantarctics with the Department of Conservation (DOC), Morgan intends to raise $1 million for the project and says he will match public contributions.

"Mice do incredible damage to our biodiversity to the species, they're taking insect life, they're taking seeds, they're taking small eggs, they're taking chicks and there's something we can do about it," Andy Roberts from the Department of Conservation told TV ONE's Close Up.

"It's an ambitious project but in one job we could clean up this island and have it good for the foreseeable future."

Campbell and Enderby islands are now pest free thanks to DOC's eradication projects.

The department believes a four day aerial poisoning campaign will do the same at the Antipodes and will allow the island's original inhabitants to live once again in peace.

But Roberts said there are a lot of logistics including getting bait in every mouse's home range and using helicopter pilots.

"There's a lot of planning that goes into it, but I'm absolutely confident we've got the skills and technique to do it."

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has welcomed the announcement of the 'Million Dollar Mouse campaign', which will be carried out by DOC.

Wilkinson said the project offers big conservation gains.

"It is terrific to see an environmental and business leader stepping up to the plate to support conservation."
"Ridding the Antipodes Islands of mice is one of DOC's long term goals but the support Dr Morgan and his group are offering will help make it a reality much sooner."

Funds will be raised by a partnership that includes the Morgan Foundation, DOC, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Fiordland Conservation Trust, Heritage Expeditions, and Kiwibank.

See details of the Million Dollar Mouse Project here