A feral cat free Kangaroo Island?

Kangaroo Island took its place on the national stage at the recent Threatened Species Summit.

Presiding Member of the KI Natural Resources Management Board, Richard Trethewey, spoke about the community support for a feral cat free island, and the collaboration by the board and Kangaroo Island Council to get the job done.

Cats have the buffet open on Kangaroo Island and the native animals are the chef’s special. We don’t have foxes to keep cats numbers in check and we don’t have rabbits as a main course.

The island’s sheep farmers also cop it to the tune of millions of dollars from our particular cat situation. The incidence of the sheep diseases, toxoplasmosis and sarcosporidiosis, is alarmingly high. Cats are an essential part of the lifecycles of both diseases.

‘Sarco’ leaves meat encysted and almost half of KI’s sheep meat is rejected or cut down because of the presence of cysts (unsightly but not a threat to human health).

‘Toxo’ has the effect of causing abortion in ewes in early or mid pregnancy, and the birth of dead or weak lambs. Many farmers may not realise that toxo is causing the problem and may blame the ram. Almost all the island’s feral cats carry toxo because they eat the aborted lambs.

The board and council prospectus: Feral Cat Eradication on Kangaroo Island 2015-2030, proposes a three-stage eradication program. It begins on the Dudley Peninsula, the ‘head’ of the island that’s about 10 per cent of the island’s total 4400 square kilometre and connected to the larger part of the island by an isthmus of about 1 kilometre width. It’s a perfect set up for a pilot to the larger eradication project.

Though large, Kangaroo Island has the advantage of a defensible border. Local Natural Resources staff are on the verge of eradicating feral goats with just a handful to go. They have the skills to eradicate ferals and funds to finish the goats off through the Threatened Species Strategy.

Eradicating feral cats on Kangaroo Island was not funded in the Threatened Species Strategy but is listed in its companion document, Threatened Species Investment and Future Opportunities.

We have the program and the will to eradicate feral cats on our beautiful island. We can do it!

Help keep an eye on the feral cat population on Kangaroo Island, or anywhere in Australia. Download a Feral Cat Scan to your mobile device and report sightings.

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