Venus Bay Conservation Park is no place for ferals

A new trial of Feral Cat Grooming Traps in Venus Bay Conservation Park on the Eyre Peninsula is proving to be a success in targeting feral cats.

Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Officer Tayla Bowden said that vermin control methods inside Venus Bay Conservation Park hope to lessen the feral cat’s impact on our native and rare species present in the park, such as the greater bilby, brush-tailed bettong as well as a range of small mammals, birds and reptiles.

“The feral cat is difficult to manage because they are highly adaptable, shy of traps, rarely take poison baits and generally avoid human contact.

“Ranking feral cats as the highest threat to Australia’s mammals.

“The Feral Cat Grooming Trap is innovative way to control feral cats in the Venus Bay Conservation Park by playing to the cat’s Achilles heel.”

The grooming trap trial started in June 2015 with one trap set and a second trap installed in January 2016.

The grooming trap is one of five vermin control methods being used to control feral cats within Venus Bay Conservation Park.

Other control methods include the large electric predator-proof fencing, standardised baiting programs, trapping and shooting programs.

Ms Bowden highlighted that the success to date of the grooming trap trial points toward a promising future for native wildlife conservation in Venus Bay Conservation Park.

The Feral Cat Grooming Trap was designed by Dr John Read of South Australian consultancy, Ecological Horizons.

The solar powered grooming trap has a sensor that detects feral cats walking past within four metres and instantly sprays them with toxic gel that they ingest whilst grooming. It uses an integrated array of blocking sensors to distinguish a feral cat from other species.

The first grooming trap provided significant design and functioning feedback to better the development of second trap.

Together the first and second grooming trap have already recorded five successful firing at a targeted feral Dr John Read from Ecological Horizons said that grooming traps are especially designed to minimise stress to cats and foxes, and hence provide a targeted, ethical and effective control technique for these feral predators.

“The new design incorporates a range of audio lures to attract cats within spraying range and also a camera that captures images of all activations, which can be used for monitoring its success.

“The grooming trap is a totally novel design and technique that is being first tested at Venus Bay and generating interest around Australia and internationally.

“What makes these devices unique is that they exploit cat’s fastidiousness for cleanliness to poison them rather than hope these instinctive hunters will take baits or enter traps.”

Over $400,000 has been spent to date in the development of grooming traps with funds for the Venus Bay trial provided by the Australian Government’s Targeted Area Grant, the State Government’s Innovation Vouchers (Department of State Development), Ecological Horizons, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species.

Further information is available at www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/eyrepeninsula/projects-and-partners/NatureLinks-TAG and www.ecologicalhorizons.com/initiatives


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