Understanding feral cat movements to aid recovery of the Endangered night parrot

Date: 25, Oct, 2021
Author(s): Steve Murphy  
Publisher: TSR Hub

Night parrots (Pezoporus occidentalis) are one of Australia’s most imperilled birds, and feral cats are one of the key causes of their decline. Night parrots currently have a restricted distribution, and little is known about the feral cats around the remaining night parrot populations, which limits the development of effective management strategies. This study aimed to understand feral cat movements and feral cat habitat selection around Bush Heritage Australia’s Pullen-Pullen Special Wildlife Reserve in southwestern Queensland and to estimate the effectiveness of possible management actions to mitigate the threat posed by feral cats at this site. Over 2019–20, we obtained GPS data from nine feral cats, and assessed their habitat use. We simulated alternative management options based on this cat movement data. Simulated control efforts were more successful if traps were placed at “pinch points” where drainage lines converged, increasing the cost effectiveness of trapping by increasing the trap encounter rate. Our findings show how the conservation of threatened birds, like the night parrot, can be enhanced through better understanding threats, to develop locally tailored control operations.