Feral Cat and Fox Control

© Joey Clarke/AWC

 

Number of birds killed by feral cats in Australia each year

 

Number of reptiles killed by feral cats in Australia each yeah

 

Number of native animals saved from feral predators by AWC’s network of conservation fences each year

AWC is leading the charge against feral cats and foxes by building a network of large feral predator-free fenced havens; conducting best practice predator control beyond the fence (including ground-breaking research into their ecology); and investing in development of a long-term genetic solution.

A network of feral predator-free fenced areas

There is now broad consensus that a network of large, feral predator-free fenced areas must form part of any strategy to prevent further extinctions of Australian wildlife. AWC manages more cat- and fox-free land than any other organisation on mainland Australia, including five of the six largest fenced areas.

Predator control ‘beyond the fence’

Outside of fenced areas, AWC is helping develop and implement best practice feral predator control. Direct control includes a range of techniques such as trapping, shooting, and Indigenous tracking. Indirect control includes managing ground cover (for example through de-stocking and prescribed burning) to promote shelter for wildlife and reduce the impact of predation.

Research into feral predator ecology

AWC is conducting the most extensive research program into feral cats anywhere in the country. A series of significant findings in northern Australia uncovered interactions between the behaviour of feral cats and fire patterns – with implications for fire management across the north. Current research priorities focus on understanding the relative densities of cats and foxes, and how control of one species might affect population density of the other.

Ultimately, this substantial, multi-year project aims to establish whether it is possible to suppress populations of feral predators to a level such that threatened mammals like Bilbies and Bettongs can survive without a fence. If it is possible, it will likely require intensive, ongoing efforts to control cats and foxes. This crucial research will help improve the effectiveness of control strategies.

Investing in gene drive technology for a long-term solution

AWC has signed an agreement with CSIRO to explore whether emerging genetic technologies can be used to effectively remove feral cats from the landscape. Initial priorities include sequencing and mapping sex chromosomes of feral cats, and undertaking the extensive research required to better understand the population ecology and mating behaviour of feral cats.

This information is critical to ensure the spread of any genetic control. Gene drive technology is a long-term prospect requiring years of research and development, but may represent our best chance at dealing with the scourge of feral cats.

Wildlife protected through this program

© Joey Clarke/AWC
Mammals

Mala (Rufous Hare-wallaby)

The last wild Mala population in central Australia went extinct in the early 1990s.

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Mammals

Western Barred Bandicoot

AWC successfully reintroduced Western Barred Bandicoots to Faure Island in 2005.

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Mammals

Greater Bilby

The Bilby is an iconic Australian marsupial, instantly recognisable by its long pointed snout, long ears, soft grey fur and...

Sanctuaries where this program is implemented

© Josef Schofield/AWC
Northern Territory

Newhaven

Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Australia’s largest non-government protected areas, offering beautiful scenery and a diverse mix of arid...

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
New South Wales

The Pilliga

Representing a landmark collaboration between AWC and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Pilliga project area protects a...

© Joey Clarke/AWC
New South Wales

Scotia

“Scotia wildlife sanctuary … a vitally important project for Australia and for the planet.” – Sir David Attenborough Scotia Wildlife...

Latest news from the field

© Lochman Transparencies
© Catherine Hayes/AWC

Subscribe to receive our latest news from the field