Program to target feral cats, foxes

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Bush Heritage ecologist Angela Sanders and Healthy Landscape manager Simon Smale.
Camera IconBush Heritage ecologist Angela Sanders and Healthy Landscape manager Simon Smale. Credit: William Marwick.

The region’s unique native animals will have a greater chance at rebuilding populations as Bush Heritage simultaneously targets feral cats and foxes for the first time.

In the Fitz-Stirling region of WA, Eradicat baits will be rolled out for the first integrated feral predator control program in South West WA. The five-year program will be run on 37,000ha, between the Fitzgerald River and Stirling Range National Parks.

The baits contain a poison to which most WA native animals have an evolved tolerance, meaning they can be used to control feral cats without harming native species. Bush Heritage ecologist Angela Sanders said many animals were returning to re-vegetated areas, but they were threatened by two predators — feral cats and European red foxes.

“Feral cats are very efficient and intelligent killers,” she said.

“They’ll sit and wait, whereas a fox will just be fairly opportunistic.

“The two of them together are just a diabolical combination and they’re pushing a lot of our wildlife towards extinction.”

Both foxes and feral cats have been on Bush Heritage’s regional list of priority threats for 15 years.

Ms Sanders said planning was complete and they were on the search for funding to put the plan into action.

“It hasn’t been until the last few years really that we’ve had the ability to do an integrated program,” she said. “We didn’t have access to bait that was suitable for cats, and you can’t only control foxes because that could lead to an increase in the cat population.

“Now, for the very first time, we're able to control the cats and the foxes at the same time.

“It's a really exciting project because we know the results of cat and fox baiting in the national parks — and if we can duplicate that in the area we’re working in, it’ll be very good news for the native wildlife we protect.”

Bush Heritage will work alongside the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, South Coast Natural Resource Management, Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, Noongar traditional owners and private landowners.

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