Cat control a win for Flinders reptiles

News article |

Cat control in the Flinders has resulted in increasing numbers of reptiles. A trapping program conducted by the Scientific Expedition Group (SEG) for the South Australian Arid Lands Western Quoll (Idnya) and Brushtail Possum (Virlda) reintroduction project, found that 40 per cent more reptiles were captured in sites that had been baited (49 individuals) in comparison to unbaited sites (28 individuals).

Posted 29 November 2018.

A trial feral cat baiting program has boosted reptile populations at Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.

A trapping program conducted by the Scientific Expedition Group (SEG) for the South Australian Arid Lands Western Quoll (Idnya) and Brushtail Possum (Virlda) reintroduction project, found that 40 per cent more reptiles were captured in sites that had been baited (49 individuals) in comparison to unbaited sites (28 individuals).

The higher number of reptiles for baited sites highlights the potential positive impact of aerial cat baiting for not only the Idnya and Virlda but other species at Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.

SA Arid Land’s Manager of Scientific Services Rob Brandle said reptile diversity was encouraging, particularly given the dry conditions, with 17 different species trapped including skinks, dragons, geckos and snakes. A further 10 species were found by searching under rocks and leaf litter.

The majority of captures were of the Common Snake-eye Skink (Morethia boulengeri), Eastern Striped Skink (Ctenotus spaldingi) and the Ranges Stone Gecko (Diplodactylus furcosus). Other species included the Tawny Dragon (Ctenophorus decresii), Bynoe’s Gecko (Heteronotia binoei), Barking Gecko (Underwoodisaurus milii) and the distinctive Burton’s Legless Lizard (Lialis burtonis).

In contrast, only two mammal species were captured, the Fat-tailed Dunnart (two individuals) and the introduced House Mouse (10 individuals).

The low numbers reflect the very dry 14 months in the lead up to the survey. Mr Brandle said the number of vertebrates collected, along with previously recorded positive numbers of Idnya, shows the aerial Eradicat 1080 poison baiting could be a useful cat management tool benefiting a range of animals.

A reduction of radio-collared cat numbers by more than 85 per cent in year one and two of the baiting trial had been spectacular, Mr Brandle said, with the continuation of the trial providing an opportunity to test if it positively benefits a range of smaller fauna species

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