Feral cat trapping on French Island yields promising results

1 May 2020

Things are looking promising for threatened species on French Island after the eight-week feral cat cage trapping program undertaken by French Island Landcare has yielded positive results.

A network of over fifty-five wire mesh cage traps were deployed along roadsides on the island and checked daily and 19 feral cats were removed as part of the program.

The program is part of ongoing monitoring and trapping works on French Island and is currently supported through the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA’s ‘Two Great Ramsar Wetlands’ project.

The Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project is working with land managers and communities to reduce threats to Victoria’s Ramsar-listed Western Port and Port Phillip Bay (western shoreline) wetland, including French Island, which is one of five island havens identified in the Threatened Species Strategy.

Since 2010, PPWCMA, Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare have been working collaboratively with landowners to manage feral cats. To date over 1,100 feral cats have been removed from the island, with an estimated population of between 100 – 200 feral cats remaining.

An Eastern barred bandicoot and Long-nosed potoroos found in traps then safely released.

In addition to the feral cats, long-nosed potoroos, water rats and bush rats, koalas, magpies, and ravens were all found, all of which were safely released.

Five Eastern-barred bandicoots were also found in traps placed near their introduction site on the south-east corner of French Island. This is a positive sign for the 70 Eastern-barred bandicoots released on the island by Zoos Victoria in October 2019.

On French Island many native mammal and bird species, including the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Long-nosed Potoroo, King Quail and Lewin’s Rail, are at risk from feral cat predation.

Through a Responsible Pet Ownership program, residents and the community are also being supported to understand and reduce the impacts that cats have on native wildlife. A database of owned cats on the island has been established, allowing them to be returned.

Tortoise Head, French Island, is an important site for Fairy terns (Sternula nereis), which are vulnerable to feral cat predation.

PPWCMA has also developed a new app to assist Landcare, Parks Victoria and contractors to record trapping and remote camera data in real-time.

The application provides improved functionality for users via smartphone and tablet devices, consistency in data collection and sharing amongst multiple agencies, and produces extensive analytics to support accurate and timely reporting by project coordinators.

This project is supported by Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot image by Hayley Davis.