Investigating feral cat control methods for western Kangaroo Island

Date: 04, Jun, 2019
Author(s):   Rosemary Hohnen, Brett P. Murphy, Sarah M. Legge, Chris R. Dickman , John C.Z. Woinarski
Publisher: TSR Hub

A feral cat eradication program has begun on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. Poison baiting is a tool in feral cat eradication. The 1080-based bait “Eradicat” is used in the south-west of Western Australia. Elsewhere in Australia, where non-target impacts may be higher, its use has been strictly limited to particular situations. Understanding the potential impacts of feral cat baiting on non-target animals is important, particularly for threatened species native to Kangaroo Island, such as Rosenberg’s goanna, the southern brown bandicoot, and Kangaroo Island dunnart. Toxicology studies suggest that species native to Kangaroo Island (including threatened species) are likely to have a low tolerance of 1080. While this would only be a problem if native animals ate the baits, no previous studies have examined the likelihood of this happening for Kangaroo Island species. To address this knowledge gap, this research undertook a trial of non-toxic Eradicat baits in order to find out 1) which native species consume baits, 2) what proportion of the population of each of these species consumes baits, and 3) what proportion of the baits is taken by feral cats. We found that non-target species (animals other than feral cats) accounted for over 99% of bait takes that we could identify. Given the potentially lethal impacts of 1080 ingestion by non-target species, our results suggest that Eradicat may be a poor choice of bait for broadscale feral cat control on Kangaroo Island.