A Community Forum on Dec 5th at Dennes Point provided information on the research and cat management activities planned for the next two years and discussed how the community can get involved. The work will focus on North Bruny as it is an important area in Tasmania for the threatened Eastern quoll and because of the relatively small number of feral cats present (compared to South Bruny).
Read the full report here, including the latest research and feral cat control measures.
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.
Interested in working at the cutting edge of wildlife management? Do we have the job for you!
Working up to 38 hours a week, the position will responsible for the on-ground monitoring and control activities to support the “Progressing feral cat eradication on Bruny Island – a Threatened Species Strategy project”, employed through the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.
Bruny Island was selected under the Australian Government Threatened Species Strategy – 2015/2016 as one of five Australian islands to progress feral cat eradication, in recognition of the potential threat that feral cats pose to the significant biodiversity values on Bruny Island.
A huge thank you to all those partner organisations and individuals that are making this project a reality: Kingborough Council, Invasive Species Branch and Parks and Wildlife, UTas School of Zoology, Ten Lives Cat Centre, Birdlife Tasmania, Bruny Island Environment Network, Bruny Island Community Association, Tasmanian Land Conservancy and private landowners.
It aims to provide the foundations to assess and manage the impacts of cats at the Neck and North Bruny to inform both the long-term control of cat impacts across the island and the feasibility of feral cat eradication.
It is proving to be a very exciting adventure, offering excellent learning and a model and tools for other Councils and cat management programs across the state.
Workshops and consultation with community members and key experts in 2016 provided the basis for a cost benefit analysis of different options and found significant knowledge gaps about the differences in feral cat activity across the island and the impact of cats on native species and agriculture. Control of feral cats at the Neck seabird colony came out as best environmental benefit (both locally and for North Bruny) and value for money during the initial three years of the project. Importantly it also identified that responsible pet cat ownership is critical to reduce the source of un-wanted and stray cats. A special thank you goes to all the participants in these workshops, especially community members.
The current foci of the project is on developing robust baseline data and monitoring systems to assess the impact of feral cat control on threatened and priority native species; achieving community adoption of responsible pet cat ownership; and an assessment of the feasibility and cost of feral cat eradication from Bruny.
Brett Woodruff came on board as the Field Officer for the Bruny Project in March. His role is to monitor and control the feral cat population around the Neck and North Bruny. Brett is a great asset to the project with extensive experience detecting, monitoring and controlling invasive species throughout Tasmania, mainland Australia and New Zealand.
A comprehensive monitoring program has commenced at the Neck and North Bruny to try to quantify the impact of cat control at the Neck and adjacent areas on priority seabirds and small mammals, and to determine the distribution and density of feral cats on North Bruny. By tracking the movement of feral cats, the project is also assessing if intensive management at the Neck can play a key role in limiting the dispersal of feral cats to North Bruny. Additional research funds are being sought to collect data that will help assess the feasibility of feral cat eradication from the entire Island. Research includes identifying cat activity across South Bruny, determining interactions between cat, quoll and rabbit distribution and the prevalence of cat borne disease (cats, native fauna and sheep) across the island.