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.
Since 2010, Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare Group have been working collaboratively with landowners and residents of French Island to manage feral cats.
The Australian Government has identified French Island as one of the five Australian islands for feral cat eradication. As a result, the Feral Cat Free French Island project is working to eradicate feral cats from the island, which will create a safe-haven for French Island’s unique fauna, free of introduced predators.
About French Island
Surrounded by the internationally significant Western Port Ramsar site, French Island is a special place for biodiversity. 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 island supports a large population of the Long-nosed Potoroo, as well as the recently introduced Eastern-barred Bandicoots. Of the native species recorded on French Island, 34 are threatened with extinction and many of the native species on the island are highly susceptible to predation by feral cats.
Planning is currently underway to secure the necessary permits and approvals for the eradication effort to commence in autumn 2021. The eradication program is expected to take four years to achieve and will be delivered over three phases:
- Reduction phase (May – June 2021): reduce the feral cat population by up to 80%
- Mop-up phase (July 2021 – December 2022): remove the last remaining cats
- Validation phase (January 2023 – April 2024): monitoring and surveillance to confirm the eradication has been successful
French Island residents and landholders are invited to complete a community attitudes survey on the Feral Cat Free French Island project.
The Feral Cat Free French Island project is supported by Port Phillip & Westernport CMA 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.