Feral Cat Free French Island

This five-year project (2019-24) aims to create a safe haven for threatened wildlife by eradicating feral cats from French Island. The project is a collaboration between government agencies and the French Island community and builds on over a decade of work to maintain feral cat populations on the island.

The eradication of feral cats will be achieved using a combination of baiting, trapping and shooting supported by an extensive monitoring program. These on-ground actions are supported a domestic cat registration program and educational events.

The project is being delivered in three phases:

  • Phase 1 (May – June 2021): reduce the feral cat population by up to 80%
  • Phase 2 (July 2021 – December 2022): remove the last remaining cats
  • Phase 3 (January 2023 – April 2024): monitoring and surveillance to confirm the eradication has been successful

This project was originally led by the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA. The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA is integrating into Melbourne Water on 1 January 2022 and from this date Melbourne Water will be the delivery agency. 

Why this project is important 

Feral cats are a significant pest species in Australia and have a catastrophic impact on Australia’s native fauna populations. Predation by feral cats is one of the greatest threats to Australia’s land-based mammals and is implicated in the involvement of at least 27 mammal species extinctions. 

French Island is surrounded by the internationally-significant Western Port Ramsar site and supports a large population of Long-nosed Potoroo, as well as the recently introduced Eastern-barred Bandicoot. Feral cats are one of the greatest threats to native wildlife on French Island and of the native species recorded on the island, 34 are threatened with extinction.

Over 230 bird species have been recorded on French Island including significant species such as the White-Bellied Sea-Eagle, King Quail and the Orange-Bellied Parrot, as well as 33 species of waders which forage along the coast at low tide.  

The Australian Government has identified French Island as one of the five Australian islands where feral cat eradication can be achieved. This work will create a safe-haven for French Island’s unique fauna, free of introduced predators. 

Wildlife on French Island

Wildlife sounds

Press PLAY to listen to soundscapes recorded on French Island as part of the study to monitor ground-nesting birds.

Feral cats on French Island 

Project partners 

  • French Island Community Association
  • French Island Landcare Group
  • Parks Victoria
  • Zoos Victoria
  • Phillip Island Nature Parks
  • DELWP

Timeline 

2021-22Phase 2 of the project will continue to move towards eradication. Monitoring and fauna surveys will continue to measure the response of wildlife to the reduction in predation pressure by feral cats.
2020-21The relevant approvals were obtained to begin Phase 1 of the project.
Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare Group were engaged to deliver the project. Monitoring using remote cameras and ground-nesting bird surveys continued.
1.9 million images were reviewed to identify the presence/absence of animals on the island. In June 2021, Phase 1 of the project commenced.
2019-20Project initiated with Australian Government.
Project planning undertaken and additional funding sources sought.
Partners engaged and project control board established.
Approvals sought in order for Phase 1 to commence in 2020-21.
2018-19A wildlife monitoring on French Island (funded through the Australian Government’s Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner) was undertaken determine feral cat distribution and abundance and to map the baseline activity of native wildlife populations on the island.
60 remote cameras were deployed across the island and acoustic recorders were strategically to record and identify bird calls. 

 
Funding acknowledgement 

The Feral Cat Free French Island project is supported by the PPWCMA through funding from the Australian Government, the Victorian Government and Zoos Victoria in partnership with Parks Victoria, French Island Landcare Group and Phillip Island Nature Parks.