The Safe Haven Project

Creating a safe haven for the Kangaroo Island Dunnart and other priority threatened species by eradicating feral cats

The ‘Safe Haven for Threatened Species‘ Project will be delivered over  four years and will build on the work already undertaken by the Feral Cat Eradication Program.

To keep members of the public updated with activities on this project we have created the Feral Cat Eradication newsletter, Nine Lives. We will be using this newsletter as a way to keep in touch with anyone interested in, or wanting to get involved with, the eradication program.

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Edition 1:Eradication work on the Dudley Peninsula gets underway!

Baiting trial

As you would have seen in the first edition of the Nine Lives newsletter, in addition to the main eradication work there are a few activities happening. One such activity is the trialling of a newly registered feral cat bait. 

All other island eradications have relied on a large scale knockdown tool to initially bring the population down by 80-90%. On Kangaroo Island we do not have that ability because; 

  1. broadscale baiting throughout farmland is not an option, and 
  2. the resources required to simultaneously remove 80-90% of cats using trapping and hunting  over the entire 384 km2 of the Dudley Peninsula are prohibitively large.

We have also found that it is much harder to trap and hunt cats throughout woodland. Therefore any advantage we can get from a knockdown tool throughout mostly inaccessible woodland areas will be a very large advantage towards the success of the program.

With this in mind, and following the registration of the feral cat bait, Curiosity (which contains PAPP), by the APVMA in January 2020, the KI Feral Cat Program has been investigating ways to examine its effectiveness as a knock-down tool throughout woodland on the Dudley Peninsula. Given there is very little information to date on the densities, distribution and ranging behaviour of feral cats in woodland areas on Kangaroo Island, and it is unknown whether Curiosity will be an effective knock down tool, we aimed to fill some of these gaps with a study using a contractor in collaboration with KI Landscape Board staff.

The aims of this study are to:

  • Estimate pre and post-baiting densities of feral cats in woodland areas of the Dudley Peninsula
  • Examine trap success throughout woodland in comparison to baiting
  • Examine ranging behaviour of cats and use this information to help decide where to distribute baits (within the constraints of the Directions for Use)
  • Examine persistence of the baits in the environment once deployed

A full report on our trial and its findings will be published in due course. 

You may have seen one of the warning signs we have placed, either as an advert in the Islander newspaper, in communities on the Dudley Peninsula or the large warning signs around access points near the trial area. 

 Warning signs around trial area - Keep dogs away!

Warning signs around trial area - Keep dogs away!

Notices placed in communities across the Dudley Peninsula
Notices placed in communities across the Dudley Peninsula

The large warning signs will be in place around properties and access points within the trial area. Please keep dogs out of these areas, if you do bring your dog into these areas you will need to closely restrain or muzzle it to ensure its safety.

Curiosity contains PAPP which is more carnivore-specific than other baits, so if an animal such as a possum does consume a bait, it will not be affected. This baiting is being delivered during the winter months when goannas and other reptiles are not active. 

If you have any further questions about the use of baiting, Curiosity bait or any other part of the eradication program you can get in touch with us on KINRC@sa.gov.au 

The KI Echidna is a EPBC-listed species
The KI Echidna is a EPBC-listed species

Southern brown bandicoot
Southern brown bandicoot, another EPBC-listed species at risk from Feral Cats on KI

Feral cat eradication on the Dudley Peninsula

As of May 2020 the eradication of feral cats across the Dudley Peninsula has begun, starting from the very eastern end (at Cape Willoughby). An operations plan has been written to guide this work, a summary of which can be found here .

As the team progresses westward we will be contacting landholders and requesting permission to access land to control cats using a variety of techniques. There is a permission form we will provide which outlines the methods we hope to use and the advantages of each. If you would like to have a look at the control options we hope to use, or fill in the form in advance of us arriving near you, the form can be accessed here .

At this stage it is very difficult to predict at what speed we can move across the Peninsula and clear regions of cats. As the work progresses we will have a much better understanding of which control techniques work best in which habitats (woodland, farmland, coastal etc.) and the effort required to remove cats from these areas.

We will be regularly updating the community with our new feral cat newsletter “Nine Lives” which will provide details about successes to date and where the eradication is currently situated. It will be very important for us to know if cats are still present behind (to the east of) where we are working, so please check regularly and let us know asap via email (kinrc@sa.gov.au) or the feral cat scan app as quickly as possible.

Fence

Construction of the cat barrier fence near Pelican lagoon commenced in late 2019 with all the fence posts being put in place through an in-kind donation from conservation group Softfoot Marsupial.

The bushfires, then bushfire recovery work (as we diverted resources to help combat the fires then help with recovery), followed by COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing detailed negotiations with KI Links, the proposed golf course that neighbours the fence on the southern end have delayed completion of the fence.

As we get all the T’s crossed and I’s dotted it is hoped construction work will recommence shortly with the fence being in place by the second half of 2020.

Have you seen a feral cat recently?

A new website and an app called the ‘Feral Cat Scan’ has been created to help our community record sightings of feral cats anywhere on the Island. Information you record will help to identify hot-spots for feral cats and identify solutions to the feral cat problem across the Island. Please register your details and login to record feral cat activity in your local area. You can record sightings, impacts (such as predation on native animals) or control activities in Feral Cat Scan. Please visit the website or download the FeralCatScan App.

If you would like to learn more about trapping feral cats in your area, please download the feral cat trapping on KI brochure

You can also email us at kinrc@sa.gov.au if you see a cat behind (to the east) of where we are working. 

Please provide as much detail as you can about what you saw, when and where (as precisely as possible). At this stage we’re only interested in cats east of our line, because those areas are ones that should be free of cats; we want to get on top of any incursions as quickly as possible.

 

Further information on this project will appear here shortly, please check back soon...

 

Lead agency

NRKI

More information

  • Communications and Media Manager
    NRC centre, 37 Dauncey Street, Kingscote
    08 8553 4444
    KINRC@sa.gov.au