The Kangaroo Island Landscape Board’s (KILB) Cat Eradication Program team are using multiple technologies and programs to fight the island’s cat infestation. With strong community support and wireless technology making what seems like an impossible job – very much achievable.
Over the next ten days, the feral cat team, together with the Dudley community will be trapping feral cats across the entire Dudley Peninsula simultaneously.
Landscape South Australia reported the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board is launching a high-tech, easy-to-use wireless trap monitoring system on Kangaroo Island (KI) to help native species and farmers recover from the devastating impacts of the 2019-20 black summer bushfires. The Landcare-funded project is using Encounter Solutions’ Celium technology on a large scale for the first time in Australia, as a key part of its feral cat control
Sixty-five per cent of the Dudley Peninsula is now under active feral cat eradication activities. The eradication team are often asked ‘how many cats are left? According to James Smith it’s not how many cats are left that’s important but the area of land free from cats. ‘Based on this rationale, we are now well over halfway to complete with 65% of the Dudley’.
Aside from the trapping remote cameras connected to the mobile phone network send images directly to an artificial intelligence-based computer system which can, in real-time, sort through the images and alert the team when a feral cat is detected. This process is proving highly efficient for the team, who can then focus on eradication efforts instead of spending hours looking through photographs.
The camera network has “learnt” to identify feral cats which in turn is helping protect native animals and farming businesses on Kangaroo Island.
“We estimate that every 25 of these cameras saves us about 40 days of staff time a year.”
The latest instalment of this technology, showcased during the Penneshaw event, was a brand new system, the first of its kind, which will be deployed on the feral cat fence and used to detect feral cats across the Dudley. The new system can scan vast areas, detect a feral cat up to 500m away in complete darkness, track its movements and alert the team. Eventually, this system will be coupled with deterrent and capture devices at gaps in the fence to provide an automated solution for feral cats trying to reinvade.
Kangaroo Island aims to become feral free
Kangaroo Island was listed along with Bruny Island, French Island, Dirk Hartog Island and Christmas Island on the government’s list of five priority islands aiming to become feral-free, with Kangaroo Island by far the largest and most populated of the group.
“This will include a trial of control techniques including detector dogs and ‘grooming’ traps, which use sensors to detect feral cats and spray a toxic gel onto their fur. The humane culling of feral cats will give threatened species such as the Kangaroo Island dunnart space to recover,” Mr Hunt said.
“Each of these spectacular ‘island arks’ is home to nationally-threatened species, many of which are falling prey to feral cats. They are also home to communities that are passionate about their wildlife and willing to champion the cause of native species.
“Feral cats have directly contributed to the extinction of more than 20 mammals since first arriving in Australia, and they continue to wreak havoc. They pose a threat to around a third of our threatened mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds. We need new tools, approaches and partnerships to limit their impact.”