Feral cat eradication work begins
The eradication of feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula began this week with activities starting on the Eastern tip of the peninsula near Cape Willoughby.
Following extensive preparation work, which included installing a peninsula-wide camera array to establish the baseline distribution of feral cats and presence of other animal species, the team from Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (NRKI) will begin eradication activities this week that will see a rolling front move from east to west across the peninsula.
Chair of the incoming Kangaroo Island Landscape Board, Andrew Heinrich, said that it had been a long journey to get to this point, one that couldn’t have been achieved without community support.
“The KI Feral Cat Eradication Program is a highly ambitious one, eradicating feral cats from the Dudley alone will make it the largest eradication program in the world, and the KI Landscape board are dedicated to striving for this goal for the benefit of the island’s threatened species and the future of the island’s livestock industries,” said Mr Heinrich.
“There have been many years of research, trialling and monitoring to get to this point so I am very pleased to see physical action get underway.”
“A recent survey we conducted along with our partners, the KI Council, which was sent to every household on the peninsula found that we currently have over 98% approval for the eradication, something that will be vital going forwards.”
Dr James Smith, the Project Leader for the feral cat eradication at NRKI says that on-ground activity on the Dudley Peninsula is set to begin on the eastern tip, near Cape Willoughby, due in part to the size of the peninsula.
“There is currently no highly effective, broad scale knockdown technique that can be used for an area the size of the peninsula so we will be employing a rolling front of eradication methods moving from east to west,” said Dr Smith.
“Behind this “rolling front” we will undertake intensive survey and ‘mop-up’ methods to ensure no feral cats slip through the net. This is where community help will be vital.”
“The eradication of feral goats and deer from the island was only achievable with community support and involvement, once again we would call on the community to do its part and report any sightings of feral or roaming cats, especially behind our rolling front.”
Members of the community can get involved by downloading the free app ‘Feralscan’ which they can use to log sightings, droppings, tracks, etc. here: www.feralscan.org.au/feralcatscan or by emailing sightings, especially behind the ‘rolling front’ to firstname.lastname@example.org
Community members will be able to check where the rolling front is on the peninsula via a new feral cat – focused newsletter we are producing shortly and via regular updates on our website.
“In conjunction with the rollout of the eradication there are also a number of other projects being undertaken which will complement and support the program such as the trialling of a non-1080 bait, Curiosity®.” added Dr Smith.
Curiosity bait contains PAPP, instead of 1080, which was recently registered for use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and is a more carnivore-specific toxin. Baiting will be conducted in winter when goannas and other reptiles are not active.
“We know little about the behaviour of feral cats in thick woodland and hunting or trapping them could prove very labour intensive or even impossible,” said Mr Smith.
“Baiting represents an alternative for such areas and we have engaged a contractor to help us determine if baiting with the use of Curiosity in isolated woodlands will be an effective means of controlling cats in these types of environments.
The eradication is being guided by an Operations plan which was recently finalised, a summary of which can be found on our website here: www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/plants-and-animals/pest-animals/Kangaroo-Island-Feral-Cat-Eradication-Program
The Dudley Peninsula feral cat eradication ‘Safe Haven’ project is supported by the KI Landscape Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. The project is guided by the strategic oversight of the Board and feral cat steering committee, which is made up of conservation and animal welfare experts and representatives from state and federal government.
As the eradication progresses NRKI will be updating the community via a new feral cat-focused newsletter and updates on their website. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, you can do so here.