Great progress continues with the cat management project, with cat numbers declining, new management approaches being trialed, Bruny Farming taking a major role, and support from the University of Tasmania and the Commonwealth Government continuing.
success in removing both feral and stray cats (122 cats all up!)
but evidence of rapid re-colonisation following removal
few cats north of Great Bay
many cats at the Neck and Whalebone shearwater and little penguin colonies
greatly increased activity at colonies during breeding season
widespread although low density of cats in the wetter forests of Southern Bruny
differences in the success of baits across the different habitats
limited success in removing ‘trap-shy’ cats
Communtiy engagement, particularly with current cat owners has been high, with Bruny Farming taking a lead role in this, and other activities. This enables a cooperative and harmonious approach, which in turn leads to success in reducing the impact of cats on Bruny’s wildlife.
The basic idea is very simple. Just as we have economic accounts for businesses, farms, councils, states and the nation, so we’d like to build environmental accounts for how we are doing with rivers, forests, beaches and wildlife that can be aggregated up to the national level.
Doing this, however, is more complex than the simple idea.
Bruny is a perfect test-bed to try ideas out: it is small, but diverse, and as the Bruny Life survey showed, over 90% of residents are passionate about keeping our environment in good condition.
There is an old saying: “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” and environmental accounts attempt to do just that: measure the environment.
We have so far spoken with the local Natural Resource Management body NRM South, to most of the community groups on Bruny, to Tasmanian Land Conservancy and to the University of Tasmania.
Interest is certainly there, and we have a meeting with various government bodies, the university and tourist operators coming up in April 2019, where we will try to develop a process to move from ideas to action.
With roots in 2016, a small band of interested people are developing an approach to accounting across environmental, social and economic indicators for Bruny Island.
Bruny Life , a survey funded through Kingborough Council to assess peoples’ attitudes and desires for the future of Bruny Island, recommended that such an approach be developed, and the Bruny Island Environmental Accounting proposal has been given the thumbs up from both the Bruny Island Advisory Committee and BIEN to date.
As it is critical that the island community feel ownership of the process, this will be developed over the coming months.
The proposal has also attracted interested from the University of Tasmania, where workshops have been held to assess how researchers there can best contribute to the ideas.
For the latest information about the various activities happening on Bruny Island in relation to feral and domestic cat management see the document here by Kaylene Allan, Cat Management Officer at Kingborough Council.
Topics covered in this update are:
Control of stray and feral cats
Management of domestic cats
– Bruny Island Cat By-law to be introduced June 2019.
– Bruny Island Aboriginal Community Ranger program
Monitoring and research
– Surveys of Short-tailed Shearwaters, Little Penguins and Hooded Plovers
– Investigating feral cats and other predators at the Neck
– Tracking feral cats at the Neck Game Reserve and feral cat density and distribution on North Bruny
– Investigating the diet of feral cats at the Neck
– Cat management feasibility study
– Future research.
The Bruny Island Cat Management Project is
generously supported by many partners
Inside with Cats is a partnership between Kingborough Council, Ten Lives Cat Centre, Tasmanian Conservation Trust and the Bruny Island Environment Network.
This series of 5 videos introduces six Kingborough cats (along with their humans), who are embracing life on the inside. Inside with Cats is not just about containing cats inside a house, it also explores the various options these owners have used for outdoor enclosures or walking harnesses, and how they keep their cats safe, happy and healthy.
The article here highlights the many benefits of keeping your pet cat confined. As the author states
“Cats have contributed to the extinction of dozens of Australia’s native mammals and birds, and are listed as a key threat to many currently endangered animals. Due to these devastating effects, there have been calls for pet cats to be permanently confined to their owner’s property. Cat owners might be surprised to find that their smooch puss is a highly effective killer: according to research in Canberra that followed cats for 12 months, 70 per cent of cats were bringing home prey monthly, and 6 per cent of cats were bringing home prey weekly. And that’s only the prey they decided to share!”
So if you have a pet cat have a look at these great suggestions.
Responses from many (22 of 28) cat owners on Bruny Island confirmed the current approach in supporting owners to desex, microchip and contain their beloved moggies. Interestingly, the bulk of owners were already doing at least some of these things, but 4 households said they would not contain their animals.
These results align closely with research conducted elsewhere showing cat owners are critical to success in reducing the impact of cats on wildlife and that they need costs of participation reduced, and plenty of support to help them make the changes for their cats. The full report is available here and makes interesting reading.
Of the 22 households surveyed, 19 own 1 or 2 cats, one has three cats and two households had more than 3 cats. These 2 households reported that this was due to having undesexed cats and to their feeding of strays.
Despite most households have desexed (96%) and microchipped (86% ) cats , about a quarter of all cats were not desexed or microchipped due to the large number of cats in one household.
Providing financial subsidies was identified most frequently by respondents to encourage desexing and micro-chipping. This was followed by offering these services on the island.
Key recommendations arising from the survey were to:
continue individual one-on-one cat owner engagement to identify and address individual barriers and motivators;
enhance the established programs particularly to build cat owner capability and motivation, specifically:
1. extend the advisory and design/building assistance to all individual households (with cats) requiring assistance.
2. develop and distribute a cat containment guide. The guide will include containment options; environmental enrichment for a cat’s physical and emotional needs; addressing stressors in individual cats; and training principles to support transition.
3. document and photograph new cat containment stories (& where appropriate video).
4. print and distribute (to individual households on Bruny) additional stickers (developed by students on Bruny).
5. purchase 4 GPS cat trackers for use with the program.
continue to promote the By-law engagement program so that ideally all Bruny cat owners are engaged. Door-knock Bruny households (over summer) to discuss the By-laws and broader cat management on the island and ultimately engage more cat owners. Consideration will then be given to undertake a mail-out to all Bruny households and rate payers.