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Feral Cats

Published: 21 Dec 2016

Article from FAME Newsletter, 2016 Issue 2

Feral cats – ferocious and large versions of the domestic variety – pose an ongoing and severe threat to the quoll and possum populations in the Flinders Ranges. Ideally, these predators must be eliminated.

One of the methods this critical aspect of the Flinders Ranges’ project is being addressed is with what is known as a ‘grooming’ trap. Essentially, it works when the device recognises the target is a cat which in turn triggers the unit to spray with a dose of poison. Cats, being fastidious groomers, can be expected to lick enough of that poison from their fur to ensure death.

It is, for some people, an uncomfortable truth that feral cats and the species we are working so hard to protect cannot mix. To survive, a feral cat must hunt and, as is the way in nature, it will hunt what it can kill. Sadly, quolls and possums fall into this category. Hence our focus on eradicating the single, most deadly, threat to the quolls and possums’ welfare.

It’s important to understand that a trap isn’t simply set. It is finely adjusted over time and tested using photographic mode only for a period to ensure only predating cats trigger the device. Quolls and possums – because of their size and gait – do not.

The Project’s use of the grooming trap has now been approved by the APVMA while scientific research permits and ethics approvals have also been obtained.

Of course, we continually seek to find better ways of dealing with the feral cat threat and, to that end, FAME, in partnership with the Ian Potter Foundation, has provided a significant research and development grant to Ecological Horizons to develop and improve the cat trap further.

It is acknowledged that there is some debate about the humaneness of the use of 1080 but the consensus is of an effective poison that is kinder to both the targeted animal and the environment than strychnine.

What is not in dispute is that there is no kindness in the destructive rampage of a very large feral cat against its prey that is largely defenceless.

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