A successful trial demonstrating that Felixer™ cat grooming traps are safe to deploy around numbats means that effective control of feral cats in the state’s South West is potentially a step closer.
The Felixer™ grooming trap is a new high-tech cat trap, developed in South Australia, that uses a series of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors to determine if an animal walking past is a feral cat or a non-target species. If the animal is identified as a feral cat the trap shoots a sticky gel containing the poison 1080 onto the side of the animal. Feral cats will groom the gel from their fur, ingest the poison and die.
The South West Catchments Council (SWCC), working with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has completed trials of these traps with captive numbats at the Perth Zoo to ensure the traps identified the animals as non-targets. Traps set in safe (camera only) mode were placed in numbat exhibits for 11 days. In this time numbats walked past the Felixers™ over 750 times and every time they were classified as non-targets.
“Feral cats are a significant threat to many of our native species in the south west and at the moment the only effective way we can control their impact is through creating predator free fenced areas. These fences are very expensive, both to build and to maintain, and are impractical for large areas” said Dr Brian Chambers – Threatened Species Program Manager at SWCC. “The Felixer trap is the most promising development we have seen for controlling feral cats in recent times and we are very excited to find how they can be used to protect our unique wildlife”
The project will now move on to testing the Felixer ™ traps in the southern jarrah forest to determine how they can be deployed and managed to control feral cats and protect native wildlife.
The Felixer™ traps used in the trial were generously loaned by Fortescue Metals Group Pty Ltd and Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd. This project is supported by the South West Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.