Ridding Palmerston Island of rats

The work is aimed to carry out full eradication and to ensure there are no reintroduction of rats. 

Palmerston may soon be rat-free! A team from the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Te Ipukarea Society and NES are currently on Palmerston Island, working with the local community to rid the island of its rat problem.

A team from NZDOC visited Rarotonga in July 2022 to engage with stakeholders as part of a pre-feasibility study to understand which species of rats were present, which motus they were found on, the community’s general sentiments towards rats. The work is aimed to carry out full eradication and to ensure there are no reintroduction of rats. 

The project led to the formation of a Project Working Group (PWG), consisting of NZDOC, NES, Ministry of Agriculture, Te Ipukarea Society and the Palmerston Island Administration. The PWG met monthly to plan a Feasibility Study in Palmerston using non-toxic bait in November 2022. The findings of the report suggested that it was feasible to conduct an eradication to remove the rats. In just over 6 months, the project is currently under full implementation.

NZDOC’s Emmanuel Oyston, field team leader for the Palmerston eradication, stated “On 28th August about 4 million two-gram baits were spread across Home Island from a 20×20 meter grid, and 541 bait trays were filled inside the various nooks and crannies of 116 buildings. This took a collaborative effort from the field team of eleven members. The next day, the same team spread almost another 6 million two-gram baits across the grid on Cooks motu.”

NES congratulates the eradication team and Palmerston community on their great efforts to rid the island of rats.

The full eradication team is Teariki Tearetoa (NES), Julianna Marsters (MOA), Alanna Smith (TIS), Ieremia Samuela (TIS), Henry Koteka (TIS), Deon Frisbee (Palmerston community), John Tuakana Marsters (Palmerston community); Emmanuel Oyston (NZDOC), James Ware (NZDOC), Jenny Long (NZDOC), and Michael Mitchell (NZDOC).

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The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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