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Efficacy and safety of Eradicat® feral cat baits in eastern Australia: population impacts of baiting programmes on feral cats and non-target mammals and birds
Journal of Pest Science  (IF5.918),  Pub Date : 2021-10-01, DOI: 10.1007/s10340-021-01433-9
Fancourt, Bronwyn A., Harry, Glen, Speed, James, Gentle, Matthew N.

Reducing the damage caused by feral cats (Felis catus) to wildlife, livestock and human health is a key objective for many land managers and human health agencies globally. The lack of safe and efficacious lethal control tools in many regions, however, makes the control of feral cats and their impacts challenging. We performed a baiting trial in central Queensland to measure the efficacy and safety of Eradicat®, a feral cat bait currently approved for use only in the state of Western Australia, as a potential tool for the broadscale control of feral cats in eastern Australian environments. We used camera traps, cat-borne GPS collars and chemical residue analysis to monitor mortality and changes in feral cat populations following baiting. We also used camera traps and bird count surveys to monitor the response of key at-risk non-target species, specifically wild dogs (Canis familiaris), common brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and 10 bird species at risk of consuming baits. Feral cat abundance reduced significantly (29–40%) following baiting, with reductions observed across 83% of the site. There were no significant changes in wild dog, possum or potentially bait-consuming bird populations following baiting. Our findings suggest that Eradicat® could potentially be a safe and efficacious tool for the landscape control of feral cats at some sites in eastern Australia. Future research is required to test the safety and efficacy of Eradicat® at other sites in eastern Australia, as suites of non-target species will vary among sites in different environments.