Friday, April 29, 2016

Dogs of Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island used to have a rabbit problem. Seal hunters brought the rabbits there in the 1800's and they were left to multiply for decades. They would eat the grasses that grew on the island resulting in soil erosion that caused minor landslides. They had a devastating impact on the isolated Macquarie Island ecosystem.

In 2010, a program was started to rid the island of the rabbits. Most were culled using poison dropped by helicopters. To ensure all the rabbits had been killed, a team of trained dogs were led around the island to find any survivors. They found only 13 and in 2014 the island was declared rabbit free.

Macquarie island is half way between Australia and Antarctica and is considered sub-antarctic. The Australian Antarctic Division manages a research base on the island that was first opened by Douglas Mawson in 1911.

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