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.
Amongst the towering white gums on Inala, Bruny Land for Wildlife owners saw, heard and learnt about the cryptic Forty-spotted pardalotes from Dr Sally Bryant and our very own Tonia Cochran.
Hosted by BIEN, this training day marked the beginning of an exciting citizen science project that will focus initially on helping the 40-spots survive and thrive.
About 20 people from all over the island first learnt how to identify 40 spots and differentiate them from their two cousins – the Striated and the Spotted pardalotes – and also to identify the Manna or White gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) on which these little dears are completely dependent.
The 40-spots are very unusual animals in that they actually farm their food source. Close-up filming has revealed that these tiny birds use their hooked beak to wound the stalks of the Manna gum to promote manna – a sugary secretion that they eat.
Over the past 40 years, the population of the 40-spots has plummeted by 60%. Being completely dependent on Manna gum makes them very vulnerable and Manna gum is very sensitive to drought.
Huge swathes of Manna gum habitat has declined due to climate change and many former strongholds of the 40-spot are now empty of birds.
Off-shore islands now hold most of the 40-spot populations, and Bruny is of critical importance.
This is why BIEN is engaging with citizen scientists to help the birds survive and thrive.
We have reasonable ideas of where the 40-spots have been in the past, where people have put up nest boxes for them, and where people have planted white gums to encourage new colonies, and we are now asking people to monitor populations using the nest boxes and in suitable habitat.
We’ll feature here the best information about the 40-spots, how to:
Assistance is being offered to Bruny Islanders to trap stray cats on private land. By arrangement, traps can be borrowed and cats taken to the Cat Facility at Alonnah for assessment and care. We will particularly welcome help in our priority areas which include North Bruny and the Simpsons Bay, Alonnah and Adventure Bay areas.
If you are trapping feral cats in more remote areas then Conrad Daniels from Bruny Farming (ph 0409 804 340) can assist in their management.
Please remember that there is now a ban on the feeding of stray cats.This is an important part of the Bruny Island Cat By-law. Feeding stray cats can result in dense populations of unowned cats. So if you see any stray cat, please get in touch and we can arrange to trap and assess them. This is the best way to protect their welfare and to manage their numbers and impact.
Friends of North Bruny are hosting an event – Dennes Point Community Hall Saturday 1 August 10.30-12.30 – focusing on reducing fire risk, preparing properties for the fire season and seeking to better protect lives and property in the event of a bushfire.
David Bowman – Professor of Pyrogeography & Fire Science, UTAS
Peter Middleton and Salina Young – Tasmanian Fire Service
Federal funds will soon be released to continue the fantastic work on controlling the impacts of feral cats on Bruny.
Whilst the release of funding has been slow, that has not stopped Tonia Cochran and her team at Inala from continuing to trap feral cats, with four being caught in autumn 2020.
Late autumn through winter is the peak of the trapping season, and Conrad Daniels and his team at Bruny Farming can start working the highest impacted areas of the Neck and Cape Queen Elizabeth bird colonies.
They are also available to deal with feral cats elsewhere, so please contact Conrad on 0409 804 340 to seek help.
The new three year project will be coordinated through NRM South. Kaylene Allan from Kingborough Council, who has steered this project for the last four years, will coordinate community engagement in the program and the management of domestic and stray cats.
Cyril Scomparin from the University of Tasmania is currently exploring how the different carnivores – the native eastern quoll and the introduced cat and black rat, interact, and what this may mean for cat control.
Multi-faceted and firmly based in science, this program leads the world in understanding how, and if, feral cat eradication on a large, populated island may proceed.
It is supported by a huge range of organizations, including the local businesses Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, Bruny Island Coastal retreats, and of course BIEN.
Sourced largely from automated analysis of satellite imagery, the report collated by the Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics at the Australian National University draws together ground- and satellite data with environmental prediction models.
Using statistical areas (from the ABS) as the reporting region, this approach compares remote data with the averages since the turn of the century (2000).
Maybe surprisingly, the region, despite this precipitous drop, compares well with the nation’s average score of 0.8/10 – and this is prior to the calamities experienced by across the eastern seaboard on the 2019 bushfires, floods and droughts.
This should be a wake-up call for policy-makers, that our cherished environment is doing so badly.
Yet whilst world-wide emergency actions are precipitated by threats to human health of the Covid 19 pandemic, only persisently luke-warm responses are experienced to the much slower, but potentially more widespread lethality of global climate change, extinction and habitat loss.
The forum held on March 14th was a very interesting and informative session. TasNetwork presenters Laura Jones and Michael Verrier elaborated on their prepared slides, that related sometimes quite technical details, in a manner that was accessible to every one present and clearly demonstrated their professionalism and expertise. Questions after each presentation afforded more clarification and quite a deal of general discussion around renewable energy and the payback time for battery storage, assured electricity supply via cable and in the case of disasters such as bushfire, by diesel generators.
The main takeaway messages from the forum were:
1. The Bruny Battery Trial was a success across several measures as has been previously related on this site .
2. The replacement cable for the one damaged by a boat anchor and which crosses from Tinderbox to Dennes Point will be approximately 3 times the capacity of the original. Amazingly the original cable has been in situ and operating since 1949.
3. There is still much analysis and research to undertake before the cable can be ordered and it is unlikely to be replaced before Feb 2021. Meanwhile additional diesel generators and remote switching upgrades will ensure supply in power outages or should a problem develop with the other cable.
4. The second cable to Woodcutter Point is due for renewal in the next few years and TasNetworks are committed to consultation with the community in those decisions.
5. There is potential for renewable energy development projects and or community based electricity generation.
It was agreed to hold a further forum in 4 to 6 months time – COVID -19 circumstances allowing.
Citizen scientists monitoring roadkill on Bruny roads over the past 7 months met with researcher Bruce Englefield, presenting the evidence of real hotspots where high rates of vehicle collisions resulted in many deaths.
With kill rates centred in south Bruny, it looks as though
the more you look, the more you find.
Bruce outlined the next phase of his roadkill research project,
seeing three years of monitoring to work out whether virtual fencing could stem
Presently, the virtual fence – a series of electronic devices placed along sections of road activated by headlights of approaching vehicles – emits flashing lights and single frequency beeps that require better adaptation to the ‘alarm response’ of the local critters, thus one line of the investigation is for more closely tailored options.
Avoiding animals on the road is pretty easy but rumour has
it that some drivers actively target animals and get some form of gratification
if they hit one.
Volunteers involved in this aspect of the Bruny Environmental
accounts simply photograph and upload roadkill found to the Roadkill App. with the
science being done in the background.
Carcasses are taken off the road to reduce secondary kill and pouches
checked for infants.
Some vollies have reported difficultly in focusing on the
maimed animals and are fervently hoping that people will take more care of animals
on the road, respecting other life.
Extending over three years, adaptations to the monitoring
system and to the virtual fencing are expected to give better results.