So, we’ve found evidence of phascogales (a tail near a devoured carcass) and ringtail possums (a head with a devoured carcass discovered by an astute landowner near the inlet side), and while there seem to be less foxes (and we’ve caught more cats) there’s still plenty of photos of cats and foxes with native animals in their mouths. How do we know if we’re making a difference? Can we estimate how many feral cats are out there to catch? Was the ringtail taken from the peninsula or from somewhere else and dropped by an eagle?
We’ve divided the peninsula into 18 geographical grids and have placed cameras in 15 of them. The cameras are serviced every six weeks and the images culled (lots of blowing branches) and loaded into an image database. Do we try and ID individual animals? Is there a standard time between images to say that’s a different fox or cat (lots of striped tabbies out there…)?
We’ve bought four new cat cages and had a trapping workshop to learn best practice. Over the Easter holiday two part time residents caught two cats! We’re baiting for foxes, released calicivirus for the rabbits, and the floppy top is (finally) going on. We’re seeing lots more brushtail possums on the ground. Does that mean we’re making a difference?
NCI has lots of questions. To help get some answers, we’ve established a Technical Advisory Group. Four scientists (they all have PhD’s!) have agreed to help. Two are from the University of Western Australia, one is a senior ecologist from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and another from DBCA. With their advice, we’re hopeful good science will provide some answers.
To keep the project going we’ve applied for further funding in a collaboration grant with Oyster Harbour and Torbay Catchment groups and the Southern Aboriginal Rangers. The goal is to extend feral control methods, camera monitoring, and image database collection along the southern coast. This will enable us to compare data from inside and outside the feral management fence.
If you’d like to get involved in ongoing works give us a call. Or, to show your support, make a tax deductible donation to WICC’s Biodiversity Initiative. We could really use a few more cameras and our current grant runs out soon…