Kangaroo Island Feral Cat Eradication Program

Aim

The aim of the Kangaroo Island Feral Cat Eradication Program is to eradicate feral cats from Kangaroo Island (KI) by 2030.  The program is being led by the KI Landscape Board (the Board) and the Kangaroo Island Council.

The Board formally launched the Kangaroo Island Feral Cat Eradication 2015 -2030 Prospectus at the Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne in July 2015 (this will be reviewed as the program develops).

The program is funded by the Australian Government with in-kind support from the Department for Environment and Water and further contributions and support from Agriculture KI, PIRSA, Nature Foundation South Australia and other public donations. 

To find out more technical detail about the KI Feral Cat Eradication Program, please download the FAQs here.

feral cats prey upon a range of native species
feral cats prey upon a range of native species

Why eradicate feral cats?

Feral cat predation is a major threat to the Island's valuable and endemic fauna, with up to 50 native animal species at risk including the:

• Kangaroo Island dunnart Sminthopsis fuliginosis aitkeni (Endangered)

• Kangaroo Island echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus (Endangered)

• Southern brown bandicoot Isoodon obesuelus (Endangered)

• Hooded plover (eastern) Thinornis rubricollis rubricollis (Vulnerable)

Please view the image gallery to learn more about the impacts of feral cats and follow these links ABC Landline and ABC.

Feral cats also spread livestock diseases (sarcocystis and toxoplasmosis) that have a huge impact on primary production and profitability, causing substantial economic cost to the Kangaroo Island sheep industry (approximately $2 million annually).

 

Why Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroo Island is nationally important for biodiversity conservation, primary production and tourism, with about 50% of the native vegetation remaining. The island is also free from introduced predators such as foxes and rabbits, found elsewhere in Australia

Should the eradication program succeed, the Island would become the world's largest inhabited island free of feral cats. The Island provides a unique opportunity to control and eradicate feral cats across an entire environmental region given its:

  • border security (being an island)
  • supportive local government on domestic cat management
  • community support for both domestic cat management and feral cat eradication
  • long history of feral cat management and research on the island to inform control techniques
  • absence of foxes, wild dogs and rabbits from the island
  • support from key stakeholders who are collaborating with the project to ensure Kangaroo Island is feral cat free by 2030.

Kangaroo Island joins Bruny Island, French Island, Christmas Island and Dirk Hartog Island on the Australian Government's list of five priority islands (announced June 2016) aiming to become feral cat free. 

2016-2019

Trialling feral cat control techniques, establishing baseline monitoring programs and improving domestic cat management.

Before any eradication can begin baselines need to be established and methods of eradication tried and tested. Between 2016 – 2019 trials were undertaken to monitor feral cat populations in selected areas and to study behavioural patterns, including home ranges and to learn more about feral cat densities in different habitats. 

Technical report on Kangaroo Island feral cat research studies and control trials 2016–2018

The Felixer versus Felis Project was supported by the Kangaroo Island NRM Board and funded through the Australian Government's Threatened Species Recovery Fund. It was conducted across public and private land on the Dudley Peninsula and aimed to engage landholders in feral cat control activities to investigate the effectiveness of the Felixer™ grooming traps through field tests.

Preliminary findings from an initial toxic trial of the Felixer grooming traps can be found here.

The Felixer versus Felis Project was successfully implemented and produced three reports:

Felixer vs Felis - Community Engagement report

Felixer vs Felis - Feral Cat Density Estimate report

Felixer vs Felis - Terrain Ecology report

 

2019-2023

Creating a safe haven for threatened species on the Dudley Peninsula

The Safe Haven for Threatened Species Project is a four year project supported by the KI Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

This project will create a permanent safe haven for the endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart, and other EPBC-listed species such as the KI echidna and hooded plover, by eradicating feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula, an area of 384 square km of mixed bushland, coastal and agricultural landscapes at the eastern end of the island. The peninsula will be isolated from the remainder of the island by a cat barrier fence built across the narrow isthmus to prevent re-invasions from the west. Feral cats will be eradicated using trapping, baiting and shooting methods, and eradication will be verified by a range of methods including camera monitoring and detector dogs. 

The eradication plan for the eradication on the Dudley Peninsula is a document that will be used to guide the operational plan, how we will carry out the eradication. This plan was prepared for the Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Board by consultants, Envisage Environmental Services, a copy of which can be downloaded here

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 update newsletter “9 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 (ki.landscapeboard@sa.gov.au) or the feral cat scan app (see below) as quickly as possible.

Further detailed information on the project will be updated on the project page found here, as the project progresses.

Fence

Construction on the cat barrier fence across the narrow isthmus of the island to prevent re-invasion from the west began in mid-Dec 2019 and it is anticipated construction will be completed by late June 2020.  The fence will initially have four “gaps” which will be monitored to study the movement of Macropods through the “gaps” and along the fence itself. Following a period of monitoring, decisions will be made on closing the “gaps”, where possible, and placing animal aversion techniques or cat-proof grids at others.

Curiosity® feral cat bait trial

The report outlining the Curiosity® feral cat bait trial carried out in the southern woodland sections of the Dudley Peninsula is now available.

In short, feral cats are very difficult to control in woodland because access is difficult and feral cats move long distances both within woodland and throughout the rest of the peninsula. Curiosity® feral cat baits present a good addition to the tools available for the eradication program because the off-target uptake (i.e. impacts on native animals) is very low and the toxin, which is contained inside a tiny pellet in each bait (not spread throughout), is much more humane than 1080. The eradication team is now planning how this can best be used to our advantage during the winter of 2021 as the eradication front rolls forward.

Bandicoot sightings!

As part of monitoring of native species across the Dudley Peninsula, the eradication team have been searching for Southern Brown Bandicoots in places where they have been previously detected, as well as in new spots that have suitable bandicoot habitat. Although some previous locations do not appear to have bandicoots present, these marsupials have been detected in woodland on the southern Dudley. Reassuringly, these bandicoots were detected at Curiosity® baiting trial sites, meaning that the baits were not having an effect on this population.

Focussed monitoring of this group and continued searching for others is planned for the coming months.

If you have recently seen a bandicoot on the island, please email the location, number and any other details to ki.landscapeboard@sa.gov.au

 

2023 - 2030

The aim is to eradicate feral cats from Kangaroo Island and continue to monitor the success of control techniques. 

When feral cats have been successfully eradicated from the Dudley Peninsula, the lessons learned will be used to inform feral cat eradication across the rest of Kangaroo Island. Compliance with KI Council by-laws regarding responsible ownership of domestic cats is a vital component of both current and future eradication efforts.

 

Donate to the program

Help us to remove an invasive predator and secure a future for native species and KI’s livestock industry with your tax deductible donation. We have worked with our partners at Nature Foundation to establish a fund for people to help support the campaign to rid KI of feral cats, your contribution - no matter how small - will help us carry out vital conservation work. Please click here to download a donation form.


All donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Thank you for your support!

You can also donate via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) to:

Bank details: BSB: 105900 Account No: 963747240
Name: Nature Foundation
Description: (Your name and) FCEP
Please email NatureFoundationSA@nfsa.org.au to advise you have made an EFT.

 

Responsible (domestic) cat ownership

Did you know that Kangaroo Island has the strictest laws relating to domestic cat ownership in Australia?

Since 2007 the KI Council has had in place strict bylaws governing the ownership of domestic cats. Cats on Kangaroo Island must be:

  • Registered
  • Micro-chipped
  • De-sexed*
  • Contained to your premises (House) unless in a contained run
  • Restricted to no more than two cats per premises*

A person must not, in any circumstances, bring or cause, suffer or permit to be brought onto Kangaroo Island an un-spayed cat that is not registered with the Council as a breeding cat at the date this By-law commences operation.

A full version of the bylaws can be downloaded here

*Registered cat breeders can be given permission from the Council to more cats, registration must be made with the Council on an annual basis, registered catteries are also exempt.

 

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.

 

 


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