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Early success For Tasman Island Restoration Project


The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) is not yet claiming success in its efforts to eradicate feral cats from Tasman Island, but says early results are very encouraging.

Project manager, Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Luke Gadd, said that it’s been seven weeks since a confirmed feral cat was detected on the island.

“This means that either the feral cat population has declined to such an extent that their numbers are undetectable or that all the cats have been removed,” Mr Gadd said.

“While we’re not yet claiming success in eradication, our degree of confidence increases with every passing month with no sign of cats.

“If no signs of cats are detected within another 10 months, we will claim success in eradication.”

The operational phase of the project began with aerial and hand-baiting of the island on May 3, with staff from the Parks and Wildlife Service, DPIPWE Wildlife Management Branch and the Fox Eradication Branch.

This was followed by weeks of intensive activity aimed at putting the maximum pressure on the remaining feral cats, including trapping, hunting, spot-lighting and monitoring by remote cameras. In addition, two week-long visits were made by two cat-detecting dogs.

About 50 cats were removed in the operation.

It was estimated that they were killing as many as 50,000 sea birds, mainly fairy prions, each year.

Teams will continue to visit the island for two to five days each month, conducting further active searching for cats with spotlighting activities and thorough searches for cat prints, scats and bird kills in locations known to be favoured by cats.

Fifteen infrared motion-sensor cameras will continue to provide surveillance at key locations on the island and also help to determine if any cats remain.

The Tasman Island restoration project has had involvement from a wide cross-section of the community with major financial support coming from the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund, a fund established by eco-tourism pioneer Rob Pennicott’s business Bruny and Tasman Island Cruises.

Volunteers have assisted in many of the activities, including monitoring of bird populations before, during and after the eradication activities.

Early success For Tasman Island Restoration Project

One of Tasman Island's feral cats fitted with a collar that allowed it to be tracked.

Early success For Tasman Island Restoration Project

Scenes like this - fairy prion carcasses killed by feral cats - are hopefully a thing of the past on Tasman Island, following removal of the feral cat population.

Early success For Tasman Island Restoration Project

Volunteers such as Luciana Luna and Chema Barredo from Mexico, made a big contribution to the Tasman Island restoration project.

Early success For Tasman Island Restoration Project

Staff and volunteers working on the Tasman Island project combed the island's steep slopes for weeks as part of the project aimed at eradicating feral cats from the island.