Following the successful rodent eradication program carried out on Lord Howe Island in 2019, the Lord Howe Island Board and the NSW Government have increased their efforts with biosecurity to ensure the island stays rat free.
A further $32.9M has been allocated to ongoing programs over the next 4 years.
The rat eradication program
Rats first arrived on the island in 1918 from the grounded ship Makambo, and over the next 100 years they wreaked havoc on the island’s flora and fauna – eating two land birds into extinction, two plant species, and many invertebrates.
Following decades of successful island rodent eradications around the world, a program was eventually carried out on Lord Howe Island in 2019. All of the rats and mice were removed.
This was a huge operation with fifteen years planning, one whole year to carry it out, and a budget of around $15M.
The last live rat from the eradication program was found in September 2019. A monitoring program was put in place to ensure that if rats did arrive back, (it would be most likely off the ship or aircraft in the central settled area) they would be detected early and enhance the success to remove them.
Ongoing biosecurity measures
In March 2021 a single rat was detected in the settlement area. A four-month-long, intensive program was initiated, and 96 more rats were caught.
To ensure this doesn’t happen again the biosecurity program was increased, and this announcement of $32.9M is for infrastructure and programs to be carried out over four years.
Details haven’t yet been released, but will no doubt include infrastructure at Port Macquarie, on the island, and for extra biosecurity dogs and handlers.