Feral cats: Kangaroo Island’s plan to eradicate all felines domestic and feral in 15 years

The federally funded culling project estimates that there are 3000 – 5000 feral cats living on the Australia’s third largest island. The Islands that will be joining the cull include, Christmas, Bruny, French and Dirk Hartog.

Kangaroo Island Mayor Peter Clements plans to phase out all domestic cat ownership throughout the cull. The Island already has stringent cat ownership rules requiring all cats to be registered, desexed and microchipped.

“We have to reach a point where we don’t have any cats on this island,” Cr Clements told Landline.

“The feral cat is an apex predator. It is ruining our species here on the island and we are totally committed to eliminating all cats.”

Pat Hodgens the feral cat project coordinator said the cats were hunting and killing birds, penguins, small mammals and reptiles.

The cats are also spreading two diseases — toxoplasmosis and sarcosporidiosis — to a range of other animals, including sheep.

Kangaroo Island farmer and Natural Resources Management member Richard Trethewey said meatworks “kill sheets” showed as much as 70 per cent of the island’s sheep meat was affected by sarcosporidiosis.

“Feral cats have been a big issue in terms of sheep production on Kangaroo Island for many years,” Mr Trethewey said.

“Significant production losses have been caused by feral cats, and this is of course in addition to the damage they do to our wildlife,” he said.

The program is expected to receive backlash from cat lovers but the public is ensured that the culling methods will be made up of strict ethical and humane practices.

Grooming traps will soon to be trialled, whereby cats passing a sensor will be squirted with a toxin that they lick off their coat.

A detector dog has been trained to seek out cats in inaccessible bushland, so the cats can later be euthanased.

Watch Landline’s story on Kangaroo Island’s cat eradication program on ABC TV at midday on Sunday.




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