A Review of Feral Cat Eradication on Islands
Feral cats are directly responsible for a large percentage of global extinctions, particularly on islands. We reviewed feral cat eradication programs with the intent of providing information for future island conservation actions. Most insular cat introductions date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, whereas successful eradication programs have been carried out in the last 30 years, most in the last decade. Globally, feral cats have been removed from at least 48 islands: 16 in Baja California (Mexico), 10 in New Zealand, 5 in Australia, 4 in the Pacific Ocean, 4 in Seychelles, 3 in the sub-Antarctic, 3 in Macaronesia (Atlantic Ocean), 2 in Mauritius, and 1 in the Caribbean. The majority of these islands (75%; n= 36) are small (≤5 km2). The largest successful eradication campaign took place on Marion Island (290 km2), but cats have been successfully removed from only 10 islands (21%) of ≥10 km2. On Cousine Island (Seychelles) cat density reached 243 cats/km2, but on most islands densities did not exceed 79.2 cats/km2 ( n= 22; 81%). The most common methods in successful eradication programs were trapping and hunting (often with dogs; 91% from a total of 43 islands). Frequently, these methods were used together. Other methods included poisoning (1080; monofluoracetate in fish baits; n= 13; 31%), secondary poisoning from poisoned rats ( n= 4; 10%), and introduction of viral disease (feline panleucopaenia; n= 2; 5%). Impacts from cat predation and, more recently, the benefits of cat eradications have been increasingly documented. These impacts and benefits, combined with the continued success of eradication campaigns on larger islands, show the value and role of feral cat eradications in biodiversity conservation. However, new and more efficient techniques used in combination with current techniques will likely be needed for success on larger islands.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biología Animal (Zoología), Universidad de La Laguna, 38206 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain 2: Island Conservation and Ecology Group, Long Marine Laboratory, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, U.S.A. 3: 48 Manse Road, Papakura, New Zealand
Publication date: April 1, 2004