The effect of cat baiting on foraging and antipredator behaviour of the northern quoll in the Pilbara, Western Australia

Date: 08, Sep, 2021
Author(s):   Murphy, B., Ross, W., Cremona, T

There is an urgent need to develop approaches to mitigating the impact of predation by cats on Australian wildlife. In arid and semi-arid Australia, broad-scale cat baiting programs have been shown to effectively reduce cat populations and, as a result, lead to an increase in the abundance of small native mammals. We have made use of a 4-year feral cat baiting program, being undertaken by the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, on Yarraloola station in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (2016–19), in order to understand the effects of a reduction in cat abundance on the foraging behaviour of the Endangered northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus). We analysed differences in the daily patterns of quoll activity between the baited property and an unbaited property nearby. We also conducted a 'giving up density' experiment to understand how perceived predation risk varies between the baited and unbaited properties and in relation to habitat features.