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Domestic ferrets on Kangaroo Island

News release
05 February 2014

On Kangaroo Island ferrets exist as domestic pets and are used as off-island hunting aides. However, the potential for ferrets to become pests is high as the Island’s climate and ecology are well suited to supporting a feral ferret population. If ferrets become feral they will have a major impact on Kangaroo Island’s environment, industries and society.

The dietary and habitat preferences of ferrets create the potential for serious impacts on native animals such as bandicoots, ground nesting birds (including penguins), echidnas, goannas and invertebrates. Impacts on Kangaroo Island’s native animals would have a detrimental effect on the Island’s reputation as a premier wildlife tourism destination. Ferrets also have the potential to harm poultry and eggproducing operations and have even been known to make occasional unprovoked attacks on humans causing serious injury requiring hospitalisation. Children, especially infants, are at most risk.

To reduce the likelihood of domestic ferrets becoming feral pests the KI NRM Board has introduced a Permit system. Owners of domestic ferrets on Kangaroo Island are required to obtain a Permit from the Board for the movement, possession or sale of ferrets under Section 188 of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004. Non-resident owners must also apply for a Permit prior to bringing a ferret to Kangaroo Island.

The Permit system is based on the requirements for registration of cats and dogs on Kangaroo Island, albeit with additional conditions because of the risks this species poses if it becomes feral. As a result, the Board will impose the following Permit conditions:• all domestic ferrets must be microchipped• all domestic ferrets must be desexed• a limit of two ferrets per premises and Permit• all ferrets are to be contained in purpose-built enclosures matching the guidelines developed by the South Australian Ferret Association; they are not allowed to roam freely over owners’ properties, gardens or backyards• ferrets must be transported in secure carrying boxes with adequate ventilation and individual compartments for each ferret.

All owners and potential owners of ferrets on Kangaroo Island are required to apply for a Permit immediately. Some of the Permit conditions outlined above may be waived by the Board for applications received prior to 30 June 2014.

Please report any sightings of ferrets on Kangaroo Island to the Natural Resources Centre either by phone, online or in person. For assistance in identifying ferrets please check the South Australian Ferret Association website. For more information about moving, possessing and selling ferrets on Kangaroo Island or to apply for a Permit please contact the Natural Resources Centre, 37 Dauncey Street, Kingscote, (phone 08 8553 4444). More information and copies of a fact sheet detailing the Permit conditions can be obtained from the Natural Resources Centre.