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Evaluating the efficacy of a landscape scale feral cat control program using camera traps and occupancy models.

Research paper by Sarah S Comer, Peter P Speldewinde, Cameron C Tiller, Lucy L Clausen, Jeff J Pinder, Saul S Cowen, Dave D Algar

Indexed on: 30 Mar '18Published on: 30 Mar '18Published in: Scientific Reports



Abstract

The impact of introduced predators is a major factor limiting survivorship and recruitment of many native Australian species. In particular, the feral cat and red fox have been implicated in range reductions and population declines of many conservation dependent species across Australia, including ground-nesting birds and small to medium-sized mammals. The impact of predation by feral cats since their introduction some 200 years ago has altered the structure of native fauna communities and led to the development of landscape-scale threat abatement via baiting programs with the feral cat bait, Eradicat. Demonstrating the effectiveness of broad-scale programs is essential for managers to fine tune delivery and timing of baiting. Efficacy of feral cat baiting at the Fortescue Marsh in the Pilbara, Western Australia was tested using camera traps and occupancy models. There was a significant decrease in probability of site occupancy in baited sites in each of the five years of this study, demonstrating both the effectiveness of aerial baiting for landscape-scale removal of feral cats, and the validity of camera trap monitoring techniques for detecting changes in feral cat occupancy during a five-year baiting program.