Cat Camp - Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary 2017
In early March, AWC’s Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary in Central Australia hosted the second annual ‘Cat Camp’, a collaborative workshop focused on various methods of feral cat control. Feral cats pose a major threat to native mammals, and have driven many species to extinction.
March 2017: The Cat Camp was organised by AWC and Rachel Paltridge (of Desert Wildlife Services) as a forum for sharing expertise between indigenous ranger groups and other organisations involved in managing feral predators.
Attendees at this year’s camp included AWC Newhaven staff, Nyirripi Rangers, Kiwirrkurra Rangers, and representatives from Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (QMDC), as well as two very enthusiastic conservation dogs, ‘Sophie’ & ‘Ini’. In 2017 the Cat Camp was supported by Territory Natural Resource Management.
The program included a mix of presentations and discussions about threatened species, the need to control feral cats, reintroductions planned for Newhaven, and fire management. Practical demonstrations covered the use of tools such as tracking dogs, camera traps, Photo-ID software, and leg-hold traps, all of which can be used to complement traditional hunting techniques.
This image: Newhaven Ranger Christine Ellis is an expert cat tracker working with AWC on feral predator control.
Top image: Attendees of the 2017 Cat Camp, held at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary in March.
An important focus of the camp in both years has been a consideration of the welfare of feral cats during tracking and removal. Animal welfare training was revisited at the 2017 camp. Dave Berman from QMDC led demonstrations about the use of tracking dogs, and their potential to assist with feral cat control in inland Australia.
During the weekend, rangers successfully tracked and removed two feral cats. This came after an exceptional week of cat control by Nyirripi Rangers at Newhaven in late February. Cat control is ongoing, and a further four feral cats have been removed since the camp concluded.
Image: The 2017 cat camp included demonstrations on the training and deployment of cat-detection dogs.