Volunteer shooters keeping up with the feral cats

Admin Aridrecovery - Friday, June 16, 2017


It’s a great year out here for native wildlife… but also a great year for feral cats. Many bouts of rain over the last 18 months have seen the desert flush with growth. The rodents are booming and so are the feral cats.


Photo: Hugh McGregor


We’re fortunate to have a great team of volunteer shooters to help with this problem, and can announce that we’ve removed a record number of feral cats in the last 6 months – at just over 200.



Total numbers of cats and foxes killed in 6-month periods in the Roxby Downs region since 1985.


This graph shows all of the cats and foxes removed that we’ve recorded in the vicinity of Arid Recovery going back as far as 1985. There’s actually more activity in the region than this dataset shows because others (neighbours etc.) have been getting stuck into feral control and we don’t have all those records.

To see what feral cats and foxes have been eating, we have dissected as many as possible of the 203 removed this year (130 of them). It is always confronting seeing the sheer number of native animals they kill. We’ve found a total of 271 native animals in their stomachs, including 45 native mice, 216 reptiles and 10 birds. One small cat had 9 threatened Plains Mice in its belly.


8 Hopping Mice all found in the stomach of a single feral cat this year.


Despite removing so many cats we are finding that they are replaced fairly quickly. Even after some weeks where we’ve removed 20 or 30, we still see many the following week. While we’re not stemming the flow completely, feral cat numbers are lower than they would otherwise have been. If it wasn’t for the removal of these 200 cats, wildlife would be in worse shape. The stomach contents analysis shows that cats eat an average of 5 animals a night, almost all of them native. Extrapolating, by removing 200 cats we have saved the lives of 370,475 native animals just in the next 12 months.

If conditions dry out in the next few months we expect to see a downturn in the number of feral cats reinvading our control zone.


Field and Maintenance Officer John Crompton with a particularly large feral cat removed from around the reserve.

 

If you are interested in being part of this effort, please contact admin@aridrecovery.org.au and we’ll walk you through the approvals process.

Also, if you know someone who is controlling cats in our area let them know that we’d appreciate the carcasses to dissect and learn from them.



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Arid recovery is a conservation initiative supported by:
bhp
adelaide university