Ambitious plan to eradicate cats from Dudley Peninsula

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The Department for Environment and Water has launched an ambitious plan to build a cat-proof fence across the narrowest point of Kangaroo Island.

The fence will use a variety of technologies, including an electric grid on Hog Bay Road, and the design will include a gap, providing movement for native animal while halting feral cats.

It is the next phase of the Kangaroo Island Feral Cat Eradication Program, specifically focussing on Dudley Peninsula being launched by the SA Government.

The idea is to eliminate feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula using a variety of techniques, eventually applying the most effective techniques to the rest of KI, making the Island a feral cat-free environment.

“This ambitious feral cat eradication program aims to ultimately eliminate the invasive predator and cement the Island’s reputation as being a safe haven for native wildlife,” Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs said.

“Feral cats decimate native wildlife on the Island and also have an impact on livestock which hurts our Island’s farming businesses.

“The first phase of the program involved monitoring the movements, densities and habits of feral cats, trialling a range of control tools in non-toxic mode, and informing the community.

“The findings from the initial investigations have helped to inform the design of the next phase of the eradication program on the Dudley Peninsula.

“The next phase will start with an 18-month project involving the use of Felixer grooming traps, with the aim of removing up to 500 feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula.

“Departmental staff will place and operate the grooming traps, working alongside landholders and volunteers who will be involved in data monitoring and analysis.

“As part of the program, feral cats on the peninsula will be contained within a cat-proof fence, which will be installed in coming months.

“Community concerns about the fence have been taken into account and the department is working with landholders on a suitable alignment to minimise unwanted impacts.”


The KI NRM Board has applied for further Australian Government funding for the eradication program and, if successful, this will allow the full program to be rolled out across Dudley Peninsula.

KI NRM Board presiding member Richard Trethewey said Islanders would be glad to see the back of feral cats, although this will be a long-term endeavour.

“Feral cats have a devastating impact on the Island’s native wildlife and carry diseases such as sarcocystis and toxoplasmosis, which can spread to livestock causing substantial economic costs to the Island’s sheep industry,” said Mr Trethewey.

Agriculture KI chairman Rick Morris said landholders were keen to work closely with NRKI to help roll out the eradication program.

“Given the impact that feral cats have on the Island’s livestock industry and wildlife it is no surprise that many landholders are keen to do their bit to support the eradication program,” Mr Morris said.

Department for Environment and Water regional director Damian Miley said that the program had conducted extensive investigative work to ensure there was minimal risk to native wildlife and domestic pets.

“Having a steering committee ensures that best practice and high standards are maintained to minimise potential adverse impacts to native wildlife and address any animal welfare considerations,” Mr Miley said.

Further information about the program is available online at: http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov....Kangaroo-Island-Feral-Cat-Eradication-Program

The findings of the first phase of the program have informed the program going forward these included:

  • A high rate of uptake of non-toxic baits by feral cats and a consistently low rate of uptake by non-target species
  • Cage trapping is successful for about 40 per cent of feral cats at best
  • Felixer grooming traps successfully identified feral cats as targets 72 per cent of the time and will need to be recalibrated to increase their hit rate
  • Detection dogs were able to locate their targets over 90 per cent of the time
  • The density of feral cats on the Dudley Peninsula is 0.52 cats per km2 and their home ranges are larger than previously thought with an average of 6.3 km2 for males and 2.3 km2 for females


WARNING GRAPHIC: Photos of feral cats and their prey




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CAT TRAP: A feral cat with a tag to be used in detection experiment in one of the cat traps being used on the Dudley Peninsula, Kangaroo Island. Photo courtesy NRKI

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CAT TRAP: A feral cat with a tag to be used in detection experiment in one of the cat traps being used on the Dudley Peninsula, Kangaroo Island. Photo courtesy NRKI


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DETECTOR DOG: An experiment using a tagged cats and a detector dog to see how effective dogs are detecting feral cats. Photo courtesy NRKI

r269_277_1459_934_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgFERAL CAT: Feral cats have a devastating impact on the wildlife of Kangaroo Island, including in this case an echidna. Photo courtesy NRKI

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AUTOMATIC FIRE: A trial using a mock cat of one of the grooming traps being used on the Dudley Peninsula that automatically fires poison at feral cats. Photo courtesy NRKI

r0_490_2592_1947_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgCAMERA TRAP: A feral cat caught on an automatic camera trap sneaking up for an attack on little penguins. Photo courtesy NRKI

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CAMERA TRAP: A feral cat caught on an automatic camera trap with a grebe waterbird in its mouth. Photo courtesy NRKI

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CAMERA TRAP: A feral cat caught on an automatic camera trap with a wallaby in its mouth. Photo courtesy NRKI

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EATING BAIT: A feral cat caught on an automatic camera trap eating a poison bait. Photo courtesy NRKI

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WALLABY SAFE: The automatic grooming that fire poison at feral cats do not target wallabies. Photo courtesy NRKI

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FERAL CAT: Feral cats have a devastating impact on the wildlife of Kangaroo Island. Photo courtesy NRKI

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FERAL CAT: Feral cats have a devastating impact on the wildlife of Kangaroo Island. Photo courtesy NRKI
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MAY 14 2018
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Feral cats will be declared a pest animal on public land

Feral cats will be declared an established pest animal on public land in Victoria.

This will come into effect later this year under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, which comes from a recommendation by the 2017 Parliamentary Inquiry into the control of invasive animals on public land.

Feral cats have a major impact on Victoria’s biodiversity and are one of the most significant threats to threatened wildlife. The survival in the wild of 43 listed threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 is at direct risk from predation by feral cats, Agriculture Victoria wrote.

The declaration will require public land managers to control feral cats where key biodiversity values are at risk. It will only apply to specified public land being managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning or Parks Victoria. Only departmental and agency staff will be permitted to destroy a feral cat.


Feral cats will not be declared as a pest animal on private land, and farmers and other private landholders will not be required to control feral cats.



 

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Outback feral cat management in focus for rangers' red centre cat camp
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AWC Newhaven Sanctuary Ranger Christine Ellis was one of 21 rangers attending cat camp.
(Supplied: Australian Wildlife Conservancy)



In the red centre of Australia more than 30 rangers, scientists and conservationists from Central and Western Australia have come together to discuss the methods of tracking and trapping feral cats.

The two day 'cat camp' as it has been coined, held at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary, about 360 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, brought in rangers from the communities of Punmu and Kiwirrkurra in WA, and Nyirrpi and Yuendumu in the Northern Territory.

Newhaven is also where the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is currently undertaking the largest feral cat eradication project in the world, building a 44 km long fence to create a feral-animal-free zone of almost 10,000 hectares, to be expanded to 100,000 in the future.

Desert Wildlife Services ecologist Rachel Paltridge says this year's camp, partly funded by Territory Natural Resource Management, was focused on combining expert tracking with trapping to remove the cats.

"That's something that's been successfully done at Newhaven," Ms Paltridge said.

"We've got some wonderful Indigenous rangers out there who are real experts in tracking cats."


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More than 30 rangers, scientists, and conservationists gather at Newhaven for the annual 'cat camp'.

(Supplied: Australian Wildlife Conservancy)


Protecting the Great Desert Skink

One of the things driving cat camp, according to Ms Paltridge, is protecting threatened species the Great Desert Skink.

She said get-togethers like this are all about rangers learning from other rangers and discussing what works best for threatened species protection.

"If you've got these Indigenous champions themselves, demonstrating it, taking people out into the field showing what they do, then it's just way more inspiring for people to be learning from other rangers," Ms Paltridge said.

Ms Paltridge said people out in communities have very detailed knowledge about what's going on in their patch.

"They might see there's lots of Great Desert Skinks around their community, and so they think they're okay across the desert," she said.

"But when they get together and hear from other groups that they're having trouble finding them, or they hear from scientists 'we've done surveys right across these areas and we can't find them anymore' — it does broaden their perspectives."

Cat camp was also an opportunity to give out awards to the ranger group that has removed the most number of cats from threatened species habitat in the last 12 months.

The Nyirrpi Rangers took our the award for removing 62 cats over the last year, while the Kiwirrkurra Rangers received silver for removing 34 in their area to protect the bilbies.


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A feral cat is caught on camera eating a Great Desert Skink in remote Western Australia.

(Supplied: Punmu Rangers)


Fence completed

Cat camp also meant visiting rangers could inspect the newly completed feral animal free zone at Newhaven, which Australian Wildlife Conservency intends to be the largest cat-free area in mainland Australia.

Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary manager Josef Schofield said 22 cats had been removed from the reintroduction area just this year.

"We've just got some final touches to do [like] energising the electric wires, tying off some of the corners, and then the fence will be completed" said Mr Schofield.

"That's a really important step in the whole reintroduction project, we can remove the feral animals from the reintroduction area but if we can't keep them out they'll just keep coming back in."


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Eventually the feral cat eradication project will cover 100,000 hectares of Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary.

(ABC Rural: Katrina Beavan)


 
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