March 20, 2018 / 11:30 PM / 6 months ago

New Zealand declares subantarctic Antipodes Island mice-free

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The subantarctic Antipodes Island is now mice-free after an eradication effort aiming to protect the World Heritage site’s unique and diverse wildlife and flora, New Zealand’s Conservation ministry said on Wednesday.

The “Million Dollar Mouse” project, which started in 2014, exterminated more than 200,000 mice, seen as a pest because they prey on bird chicks, eggs, insects and seeds, disrupting life on the 2,100 hectare island some 760 km (470 miles) southeast of New Zealand.

“This is huge news for conservation both in New Zealand and internationally,” conservation minister Eugenie Sage said.

She said 21 species of breeding seabirds, more than 150 species of insects - 17 percent of them only found on the Antipodes - 21 uncommon plant species and four unique land birds could now thrive in the mice-free territory.

Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Paul Tait

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