• Venessa Merrin

Ground-breaking feral cat research extended across northern Australia

AWC ecologist Hugh McGregor with cat-detector dogs Sally and Mulliga tracking feral cats - A Hartshorne

June 2015: AWC’s specially-trained cat-detector dogs, Sally and new recruit Mulliga, are hard at work tracking cats at Piccaninny Plains as part of AWC’s feral cat research program.

14 feral cats have been tracked, chased up a tree, tranquilized and then fitted with a GPS collar before being released. The cats will be monitored over the coming months to decipher the interaction between feral cats and other threats such as fire, pigs and other feral herbivores.

AWC’s ground-breaking research at Mornington (read more in Wildlife Matters Summer 2014/15) revealed how the impact of feral cats could be reduced by managing fire and grazing. By expanding this research to other sanctuaries across northern Australia, we can test the broad applicability of these results in areas which have different vegetation types, cat densities, prey densities, and fire and grazing histories.

Identifying landscape scale mechanisms to manage the impact of feral cats is critical to preventing the extinction of small native mammals across northern Australia, such as the Black-footed Tree-rat, and Southern Brown Bandicoot.

A sedated feral that had killed a native Water Rat just moments before we captured it - A Hartshorne

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