Natural Resources Management Board’s plan to eradicate feral felines by 2030 has received a potential $500,000 boost.
Federal environment minister Greg Hunt and federal member for Mayo Jamie Briggs made the announcement on Monday – conditional of a re-elected Coalition government.
Natural Resources Management Board presiding member Richard Trethewey was delighted with the announcement the federal government was joining forces with the KI community.
“We think it’s quite a big task and it’s going to need a big community commitment, too,” he said.
“I think the government has recognised the passion with which the community feels about the cause, as well as the urgency of the feral cat situation on the island.”
Mr Trethewey said feral cats were a major threat to the island’s agricultural industry, as well as natural habitat, with the introduced species carrying diseases detrimental to sheep.
Feral cats on Kangaroo Island are known carriers of the diseases sarcosporidiosis and toxoplasmosis, the latter of which can cause stillbirths among sheep.
“There’s every reason Kangaroo Island should be one the first islands trialled,” Mr Trethewey said.
“We have a council that has led the way on domestic cats and now it’s a great opportunity to work as a community and show what we can do.”
Kangaroo Island was listed along with Bruny Island, French Island, Dirk Hartog Island and Christmas Island on the government’s list of five priority islands aiming to become feral free, with Kangaroo Island by far the largest and most populated of the group.
“This will include a trial of control techniques including detector dogs and ‘grooming’ traps, which use sensors to detect feral cats and spray a toxic gel onto their fur. The humane culling of feral cats will give threatened species such as the Kangaroo Island dunnart space to recover,” Mr Hunt said.
“Each of these spectacular ‘island arks’ is home to nationally-threatened species, many of which are falling prey to feral cats. They are also home to communities that are passionate about their wildlife and willing to champion the cause of native species.
“Feral cats have directly contributed to the extinction of more than 20 mammals since first arriving in Australia, and they continue to wreak havoc. They pose a threat to around a third of our threatened mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds. We need new tools, approaches and partnerships to limit their impact.”