Toxic trials to tackle feral cats set to begin on KI

KI TRAP: Felixer™ Grooming Traps, which are designed to specifically identify and target cats, are set to begin trials in toxic mode from February 2019.
KI TRAP: Felixer™ Grooming Traps, which are designed to specifically identify and target cats, are set to begin trials in toxic mode from February 2019.

Toxic mode will be activated on the Felixer™ grooming traps for first time on Kangaroo Island in the battle to eradicate feral cats.

Following an extensive testing period in non-toxic mode, the Felixer™ Grooming Traps, which are designed to specifically identify and target cats, are set to begin trials in toxic mode from February 2019. 

The Kangaroo Island Feral Cat Eradication Program aims to eradicate feral cats from KI by 2030, to make it one of the world's largest feral cat-free inhabited islands, further galvanising the Island’s reputation of being a safe haven for native Australian wildlife.  

KI’s Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board presiding member Richard Trethewey says the move to “toxic mode” is a significant step forward in the eradication of feral cats. 

“This part of the program will see the Felixer vs Felis project, an 18-month project that is being conducted across public and private land on the Dudley Peninsula with an initial target of up to 500 feral cats, trial the Felixer™ grooming traps in toxic mode.” said Mr Trethewey.

“This is one of many control tools being trialled in this long-term endeavour. 

“Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (NRKI) staff are placing and operating the grooming traps, working alongside landholders and volunteers who are involved in data monitoring and analysis.

“This trial adds valuable information to the lessons learned from our successful eradication of feral goats and feral deer that was achieved with the cooperation of the public and with a good track record for safety.

“We cannot succeed in this eradication program without the same level of support from the community.” added Mr Trethewey.

The Felixer™ Grooming Traps, which have been used extensively in northern South Australia and the Northern Territory, work by identifying cats from their size, shape and gait as they cross in front of the machines. 

When the traps identify a cat, the machine administers a single dose of a toxic gel to the animal’s coat, which is ingested when the cat grooms itself.  

NRKI Feral Cat Team leader Venetia Bolwell said the grooming traps proved highly successful in identifying the target species when trialled without poison.

“When the traps activate, they photograph what has passed in front of them,” Ms Bolwell said.

“By analysing these photos together with records of whether animals were identified as targets or non-targets, we have established that the traps are effective in identifying the target species.”

The use of the Felixer™ Grooming Traps in toxic mode will be highly regulated and conducted in full cooperation with landholders, both in the study areas and with surrounding properties.

“The grooming traps use sodium fluroacetate (1080), which is also highly toxic to dogs. 

“NRKI will notify immediate neighbours of the dates of the next phase of the trial by phone and in writing, as per the 1080 permit conditions.”

Warning signs will be placed around the trial sites to advise people to keep their dogs restrained and away from the area, as is done in other parts of Australia.

NRKI will provide the community with updates on the progress of the toxic trial in March and April.

Further information about the use of sodium fluroacetate (1080) in the Feral Cat Eradication Program is available on the NRKI website, including answers to the questions posed by community members at the recent 1080 meeting, available at : https://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/plants-and-animals/pest-animals/Kangaroo-Island-Feral-Cat-Eradication-Program 

For inquiries about the Felixer™ grooming trap trials, please contact Venetia Bolwell, Feral Cat Team Leader on 0429 459 024.

The feral cat eradication project, a joint initiative of Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (DEW and the KI NRM Board) and Kangaroo Island Council in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) and partnered with the Invasive Animal Cooperative Research Centre and Ecological Horizons, is funded by the Australian Government with in-kind support from DEW.

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