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Trap the cat talk 1

News release
12 September 2016

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island has started the first stage of the feral cat eradication project by undertaking control trials using various techniques like the cat grooming trap.

The eradication project aims to eradicate feral cats by 2030. Kangaroo Island is one of five Australian islands identified by the Australian Government for feral cat eradication.

There are approximately 5,000 feral cats living on the island. They are directly implicated in the loss of threatened native fauna and the spread of livestock diseases that impact production and profitability of the sheep industry.

Feral cat control is notoriously difficult as cats are highly intelligent and wary of new objects in their environment.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island’s manager Planning and Adaptive Management, Martine Kinloch said feral cats are unlikely to enter cage traps unless they are hungry.

“They don’t take baits as they usually prefer to hunt live prey and they are difficult to locate in thick vegetation,” Ms Kinloch said.

“In order to control feral cats, we will need to use every appropriate tool available.

“The grooming trap is an innovative method of cat control that is being trialed in a variety of locations across Australia, including South Australia’s Flinders Ranges National Park and Venus Bay National Park.

Ms Kinloch said, the trials on the mainland have proven successful; feral cats have triggered the trap whereas possums, echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies and bilbies have not.

“Scientists have spent more than two years refining the mechanics of the spray device to ensure it is activated only when cat-specific sensors are triggered.

“The traps contain multiple sensors that distinguish between cats and different shaped non-target wildlife based on a number of measurements.

“The KI project will trial grooming trap devices exhaustively to be certain that they are specific to cats and do not target any other species, Ms Kinloch said.

The traps are designed to spray toxic gel onto the flanks of the feral cat; the cat will instinctively groom their fur and ingest a lethal dose of the toxin, which is another factor that renders this device specific to cats – cats groom themselves prolifically but native wildlife rarely do.

“Currently, 1080 is the only poison approved for cat control though we are hoping that PAPP (Para-aminopropiophenone) will also be registered for use in the next few years.

Ms Kinloch said, grooming traps will not administer any poison until the trials have verified unequivocally that cats are the only target.”

Non-toxic trails will be established in areas with small to medium sized animals such as echidnas, bandicoots, brush-trailed possums and Tammar wallabies. The grooming traps have an inbuilt camera to monitor which animal species trigger the sensors to disarm or activate the trap.

“We hope to have several grooming traps trialed on Kangaroo Island by early next year.”

The grooming trap is one of many feral cat control techniques that will be used as part of the feral cat eradication project control trials.

Trap the cat talk 2 will include information about the use of cat lures and cage trapping.

To find out more about grooming traps and the KI Feral Cat Eradication Project, come to the KI Field Day on the 29 September or Science in the Pub sessions on the 13 September, Parndana Hotel and 15 September, Penneshaw Hotel. Contact the natural resource centre on 08 8553 4444 for more details.

This project is supported by Natural Resources Kangaroo Island through funding from the Australian Government.

A feral cat eradication project steering committee, represented by Natural Resources Kangaroo Island in partnership with the Kangaroo Island Council, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) guides the projects direction.

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