In Australia, feral cats are one of the greatest threats to small-to-medium-sized native mammals, reptiles and ground-nesting birds. Since their introduction, cats nationwide have contributed to the extinction of at least 28 mammal species, and threaten 124 mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds.
Although initial research suggests that cat densities are lower in the Kimberley than in other parts of Australia, cats continue to pose a significant threat to wildlife such as greater bilbies.
Cat control takes a lot of time and effort as feral cats are trap-shy, do not like taking baits (preferring to catch live prey) and generally avoid humans, which makes trapping, baiting and shooting very difficult.
What we are doing
Over the years, the Kimberley Nature Project (KNP) has undertaken a range of feral cat management activities.
We have produced information packages, which include a standard operating procedure for the trapping of feral cats, trapping data sheets and a code of practice for their humane control, and distributed them to ranger groups. We have also provided training and cat traps to landowners and land managers, including ranger groups and tourism ventures.
On occasion, KNP has participated in feral-cat-shooting exercises with licensed shooters and ranger groups on Indigenous Protected Area lands.
So far our success rate in both trapping and shooting is very low, owing to the cat’s naturally cautious nature and the abundance of live food in these areas.
As well, we have indirectly supported cat management through assisting fire management by rangers, which reduces the size of burnt patches, increasing the proximity to and amount of vegetation cover for prey animals. This has been shown to greatly decrease the predation success of feral cats.
Into the future
We will continue to provide information, advice, ranger support and assistance on feral cat management in the region, particularly through our Kimberley Bilby Project.