(KI) Research news, background and general information

June 2020 : Bandicoots have been detected on our land which may have moved to us after the fires as per this email of 26/6/2020.

‘Good Morning

I thought you all would like to know we have detected Southern Brown Bandicoots on the Dudley Peninsula, for the first time in a  long time.

These were recorded by our remote cameras used for the woodland curiosity baiting trial in the Bushland Conservation land between Simpson Cons Park and Rob Hannafords holdings.

We hope to put out a press release about this, emphasising the importance of the cat eradication program shortly.

We won’t mention any localities in the release.

Dr James Smith
Project Leader- Feral Cat Eradication

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island
Department for Environment and Water
P (08) 8553 4439 | M 0447 155 115BandicootsRCNX0458

 

 

News about the KI Dunnart project can be accessed at the link below

https://landscape.sa.gov.au/ki/plants-and-animals/The_KI_Dunnart_project

 

News about the KI feral cat eradication program can be accessed at the  link below and a summary is given.

https://naturalresourceskangarooisland.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/r/77023DA14B37040B2540EF23F30FEDED/A087C4EB6002D4B866B5C06F7719487D

RE: Dudley Peninsula Feral Cat Eradication 2019-2023: commencement of eradication

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself. I’m the new Project Leader for the Feral Cat Program. I’ve been working with the program? since January this year, having moved from the Kimberley W.A. where I worked on cat control and research for nearly a decade with a non-government conservation organisation.

As you will be aware, Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (soon to be the KI Landscape Board) has been undertaking preparation work for the start of eradication activities on the Dudley Peninsula; many of you would have been in direct contact with members of the eradication team as we rolled out a camera monitoring array which helped us establish baseline information ahead of eradication work.

Following our broad scale monitoring work, I am writing to you today to inform you that we are about to begin on-ground eradication activities. The on-ground activities, and indeed the eradication itself, on the Dudley Peninsula will be guided by our operations plan which has recently been finalised, a summary of which can be found on our website.

We will be starting activity on the eastern end of the Dudley Peninsula, our reasoning for this is outlined below.

Typically island eradications use this basic process;

  •  Knockdown. Use one broad scale and highly effective technique (typically baiting or introducing a disease) to bring the population down rapidly (ideally by 80-90%).
  •  Mop up. Follow up with other, more targeted techniques to cull any remaining animals.

However, we’ve had to modify this technique for use across the Dudley Peninsula because;

  •  There is currently no highly effective, broad scale knockdown technique that can be used for feral cats on Kangaroo Island. 

The size of the peninsula prohibits this type of broad scale approach because by the time the mop up operations sweep across the island (it can take many person hours to find and cull the last few cats in any particular area) the remaining cats will have bred up again, possibly to pre-knockdown levels.

The technique for the Dudley Peninsula therefore involves a rolling front of control methods to “push” the eradication line across from east to west, followed continuously by intensive survey and mop up methods behind the front.

As we see it, the major advantages of this approach are that:

  •  The Cape Willoughby area is relatively small so logistical and operational issues can be resolved and streamlined.
  •  The eradication will start with minimal “edge”. That is, there are fewer opportunities for feral cats to reinvade because the ocean presents a barrier on 3 out of four compass directions.
  •  This will allow time for the cat barrier fence to be completed on the isthmus and the eradication project and project partner, KI Council, to exert pressure on domestic cat owners to comply with by-laws requiring registration, de-sexing, micro-chipping and containment of their pets.

The Dudley-wide camera array, which was deployed in December, is aimed at detecting cats and rare native species across the landscape. These cameras will remain in place and we will continue to collect data for a one month period, every six months. Briefly:

  •  98 cameras were deployed across the Dudley and left active for 1 month. 
  • 5 cameras failed, either due to poor batteries or other issues (animals moving the camera, etc.).
  •  Cats were detected on more than half the cameras, however this value is probably an underestimate due to camera placement (e.g. in open farmland it can be difficult to find a suitable place to put cameras where cats are likely to travel).

Towards the end of 2019 we, along with our partners the KI Council, issued an “educational” survey to every household on the Dudley Peninsula which served to both highlight existing domestic cat management by-laws in place on KI and also to gain feedback on both domestic cat management and feral cat eradication.

The survey results illustrated the high level of support we have for the eradication, with over 98% approval from the 358 respondents. The KI Council has also indicated that they will focus on domestic cat management on the Dudley Peninsula as a priority going forward to compliment the eradication activity.

In conjunction with the rollout of the eradication there are a number of other related projects that will feed into, or complement the work staff are doing. For example the use of a non-1080 bait (Curiosity®) is being tested in some of the woodland areas on the southern Dudley Peninsula.

We know very little about what feral cats in woodland do and hunting or trapping them could prove very labour intensive or even impossible. So baiting represents another alternative for these areas.

Curiosity contains PAPP which is more carnivore-specific than 1080, so if an animal such as a possum does consume a bait, it will not be affected. Baiting will be conducted in the winter months when goannas and other reptiles are not active. We have engaged a contractor to help us determine if baiting using Curiosity in woodland will be an effective means of controlling cats in this environment.

We’ll be sending out more information to the Dudley and Kangaroo Island community shortly in the form of a feral cat focussed newsletter and updates on our webpage.

This eradication project will only be successful if we have community support and involvement. One way the community can help is by downloading and using the free Feralscan app. Any records of feral cats (sightings, droppings, tracks, etc.) can be very simply recorded and we can compile that information to further help us plan the eradication.

The Dudley Peninsula feral cat eradication ‘Safe Haven’ project is funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and is due to be completed by June 2023. The KI Feral Cat Eradication Program is guided by the strategic oversight of the KI Landscape Board and a steering committee made up of conservation and animal welfare experts and representatives from state and federal government.

If you have any queries, please contact the Natural Resources Centre in Kingscote via kinrc@sa.gov.au or phone 8553 4444 or 0429 616 414.

April 2020 note from JS to GW

‘Thanks for the recent bird list and notes on the Rockleigh property. Sounds like I should visit there while the trees are blossoming. A few years back there was a good flow of nectar in the Peppermint Gums up here in the Mid North and every little patch had lots of honeyeaters. That year was interesting in light of your 2 new species from Rockleigh, ie yellow-faced and white-naped, as these 2 sp were abundant together in the E. odorata here that year, whereas they are almost rare around here usually; Tothills excepted, which always has a  few resident yellow- faced.’