An unusual story of extinction on Martha’s Vineyard revolves around a humble mouse.

Hitching a ride with the Pilgrims, the tiny house mouse made the journey to North America from Europe hundreds of years ago. Today the house mouse is abundant in Massachusetts, where it survives by feasting on a smörgåsbord of farmhouse crumbs, hay bales and silo grains.

Everywhere, that is, except here.

Gus Ben David 2nd, the noted natural history expert who lives in Edgartown, is holding out hope that reports of the demise of the house mouse on Martha’s Vineyard have been greatly exaggerated.

Mr. Ben David recalls finding the rust-colored rodents by the hundreds in the hayloft at Elijah Smith’s farm at Katama in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Back in those days, we had extensive agriculture. Growing up, I had my own farm with chickens and everything else, but that was typical of Vineyard families. These little mice were so common on the farm it was unbelievable,” he said.

But according to Mr. Ben David, there have been no sightings since the 1960s.

He said the house mouse depends on humans for its food and is unable to survive in the forest like the white-footed mice, voles and Norway rats found on the Island today. But he doesn’t think the rapid decline in Island farms is the sole reason for the disappearance of the Island house mouse.

He recalled that near the end of his high school years, sophisticated rodent poisons began to be developed. Dukes County started a rat and mouse control program that would deliver poison to the door of homeowners, free of charge. The systematic poisoning, coupled with the decline in agriculture on the Vineyard, are the reasons Mr. Ben David believes the mouse no longer exists on the Island.

When Mr. Ben David began his work at the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in the early 1970s, he noticed a startling absence of the mouse he used to see everywhere as a kid. Other biologists working with him who were conducting extensive trapping studies yielded not one house mouse in their research. This baffled Mr. Ben David. He thought for sure there had to still be house mice on the Vineyard. So he turned to two of his most trusted Island resources: owl pellets and the Gazette.

He put an advertisement in the Gazette looking for a house mouse. Within a week, more than 100 trapped mice were brought to him — but not one was a house mouse.

For more clues, Mr. Ben David turned to owl pellets, the regurgitated mass of bones and other indigestible plant matter left behind by owls. He said it is possible to determine the skull of a house mouse based on a small nick on the outer ridge of the mouse’s upper canine.

“I checked barn owl pellets from Gay Head to Edgartown and not one house mouse,” he recalled.

Since then Mr. Ben David, who rehabilitates wild birds, including owls, has been on the lookout for house mouse skulls in the thousands of pellets he has checked. He’s sent pellets to the state to be checked as well, but none yielded a house mouse.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife states on its website that house mice are found “nearly statewide except for Martha’s Vineyard.”

Meanwhile, for Mr. Ben David, the quest continues. He invites anyone who traps a mouse to bring it to him to see if “we can rediscover the enigma that is the house mouse of Martha’s Vineyard.”

“If somebody thinks they might have a house mouse, bring that little devil to me,” he said. “If someone were to bring me a specimen, I would just freak out.”