Fewer feral cats in landholder traps is a sign predator numbers are on the retreat

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A drop in feral cats caught during the Dudley Peninsula landholder blitz this year is just one positive sign that the eradication program is on track, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board (KILB) says.

Fewer feral cats in landholder traps is a sign predator numbers are on the retreat

Feral Cat Program Project Officer Josh Mulvaney said an almost 80% drop in the number of cats caught during the blitz this year compared to last was an “important indicator that this ground-breaking project is tracking well”.

“This year there were 21 Dudley residents involved in the blitz, and together we ran 386 traps for a total of 5,164 trap nights (number of traps x number of nights), and removed 13 feral cats,” Mr Mulvaney said. “Last year we captured over 60 cats in a 10-day period.

“Increasing effort for decreasing captures is a promising sign. Where there are fewer feral cats, there should be fewer cat captures.”

Of the 13 feral cats captured in the Blitz, eight were female (61%) and one was pregnant. The average weight of the female cats was 2.3kg and 3.7kg for the males.

“The capture of eight female cats in particular is a great outcome for the management of the feral cat population to support eradication,” Mr Mulvaney said. “The management of hundreds of traps represents a huge effort, so thanks again to all who were involved this year.”

KILB Board Member and echidna expert Dr Peggy Rismiller said the team is “achieving the goal of a feral cat free Dudley Peninsula with the continued strong backing and support of the local community”.

“The rolling front technique used since inception of the program has proven very successful, meaning much of the Dudley is now effectively covered,” Dr Rismiller said.

“This will be the largest human populated feral cat free area in the world and our team continues monitoring all areas using new technologies.”

Mr Mulvaney noted that there is a strong seasonal component to the efficacy of cage traps which varies year to year and that control tools other than cage traps would begin to be rolled out.

“As we continue to reduce the population of feral cats on the Dudley, the program will commence using more targeted techniques to remove trap-shy cats. The application of more specialised techniques will be used in conjunction with traditional cage trapping delivering control across the whole of the Dudley Peninsula as the program moves towards eradication,” he said.

“We are currently deploying Celium Trap Alert technology on our array of traps across the Dudley, which will allow us to see remotely which traps have been triggered each night, significantly reducing the time taken to check traps and improving welfare outcomes for trapped animals. This technology is already in place in parts of the Dudley, and has been used extensively in the fire recovery on the western end of the island.”

Mr Mulvaney said the participation of landholders in controlling cats and the reports of feral cat sightings by the general public was vital to the success of the eradication program, which aims to eliminate feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula by 2025.

“If landholders would like to keep trapping, or if anyone sights feral cats on the Dudley, please let us know by calling 8553 2476.”

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