The construction of a cat-proof fence is set to begin on Kangaroo Island where world's largest feral cat eradication program is underway.
The new cat-proof fence across the KI's narrowest point at Pelican Lagoon will essentially divide the Island in two, separating the Dudley Peninsula and its feral cats.
Contractors from Softfoot Marsupial Sanctuary will start construction of the fence shortly. Works are due to be completed by mid-2020.
Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board's ambitious Kangaroo Island Feral Cat Eradication Program has the fence as its centerpiece, with cat eradication on the peninsula already underway.
Construction on the cat-proof fence can begin following approval from the KI Council at its December meeting.
With the KI Feral Cat Eradication Program moving into its next phase, to eradicate feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula, the KI NRM Board is set to begin construction of a cat fence across the narrow isthmus of the island on unmade road reserve near Pelican Lagoon.
Spaces will be left in the fence to allow for native animals including Kangaroos to cross, as well as for Hog Bay Road, the Island's east-west main road.
Cat movement at the spaces will be monitored with an eye to investigating various technology to eventually stop cats crossing.
Kangaroo Island has always been fox and rabbit free, while feral goats and deer were also recently eradicated, but cats still have a major impact on the Island's ecosystem and agriculture.
The cat fence will help prevent re-invasion of feral cats from the west of the island once eradication has begun on the Dudley Peninsula.
KI NRM regional manager Damian Miley welcomed the approval of a permit to construct the fence on an unmade road reserve from the KI Council saying it has been a long process but one that will pay dividends for threatened species on the island.
"Following consultation with the neighbouring landowners along the route of the fence to work through issues surrounding the movement of other animals, I hope to see the fence construction welcomed by the wider KI community," Mr Miley said.
"We will continue to work with the KI Council and DPTI (Department of Planning, Transport, Infrastructure) surrounding vegetation clearance and other traffic issues where the fence meets Hog Bay Road, as we have tried to work through issues with land owners on the fence's extremities, but I appreciate that we will not be able to please everyone."
KI NRM Board presiding member, Andrew Heinrich said that eradicating feral cats from the Island would be hugely beneficial to both threatened species and the livestock industry.
"It is well known that feral cats are the main predator of our threatened species, many of which have their last refuge on the Island, but farmers also know that cats are the main carriers for several diseases such as Toxoplasmosis and Sarcocystosis that hit farmer's pockets hard," Mr Heinrich said.
"The installation of the cat fence is key to successfully eradicating feral cats from the Dudley Peninsula, the lessons from which will be used to inform the wider project when it moves to eradicate feral cats from the rest of the Island."
The fence itself will be a standard cat proof fence design, used in several other locations across SA and Australia that will have a floppy top section to stop feral cats from climbing over and a skirt to stop feral cats from burrowing under it.
The route will run down the middle of an old road reserve about 3 km long from the cliffs of the south Coast to Pelican Lagoon.
More information on the KI Feral Cat Eradication Program can be found here: www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/plants-and-animals/pest-animals/Kangaroo-Island-Feral-Cat-Eradication-Program