Cat-astrophic: A Cute Predator's Hidden Toll

June 7, 2023

Beautiful Eastern Quoll standing prone

Reducing the threat posed by Cats toward our wildlife such as this Endangered Eastern Quoll - © Jono Dashper

As a biodiversity treasure trove, our beloved Bruny is home to a multitude of rare and threatened species. However, the delicate balance of our native wildlife is under threat by feral, stray, and free-roaming pet cats. 

The seemingly innocent act of letting pet cats roam can lead to devastating consequences. Each free-roaming cat kills an average of 115 native mammals, birds, and reptiles every year. In some cases, a single pet cat has been responsible for eradicating an entire native species within a local area.

With remarkable stamina and astonishing agility, Cats can traverse vast distances, with one male feral cat recorded journeying regularly between 'The Neck' and Dennes Point, some 26 klms away.

The Bruny Island Cat Management Project, in collaboration with the community, has worked since 2017 to reduce the impact of cats on Bruny Island’s wildlife in order to keep the islands ecosystems safe.

Bruny Island: A Sanctuary for Rare Species

Bruny Island's rich and varied habitats provide refuge for numerous rare and threatened species that have suffered significant declines on mainland Tasmania, Australia nationally - and in some cases – around the world. Within this remarkable sanctuary, you may encounter the elusive Eastern Quoll, Long-nosed Potoroo, Eastern barred and Southern brown bandicoot, and our iconic White Wallaby. The island also serves as a crucial haven for birds, including Little Penguins, Short-tailed Shearwaters (who perform a 30,000klm trans-equatorial migration flight including Antarctica, New Zealand, Japan, and Alaska), Hooded Plovers at the shoreline; tiny Forty-spotted pardalotes nestled in white gums; and migratory Swift parrots seeking breeding grounds in the summer.

Fixing the Cat-astrophe!

Hooded Plover - © Rod Hartvigsen

Fixing the Cat-astrophe!

Swift Parrot - © Peter Brindley

Fixing the Cat-astrophe!

Forty-spotted Pardalote - © Rod Hartvigsen

Fixing the Cat-astrophe!

Short-tailed shearwaters - © Rod Hartvigsen

The Feline Threat to Bruny's Native Wildlife

Feral, stray, and free-roaming pet cats pose a severe risk to Bruny Island's native wildlife as Island species are especially susceptible to hunting and diseases from cat populations which can rapidly expand. Once a native species disappears, it may never return.

The Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus), tragically extinct in the wild on mainland Australia and experiencing a decline in Tasmania, finds a refuge on Bruny Island. However, recent research suggests that even here, these unique creatures are highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and disease outbreaks.

If the number of feral cats ever increased significantly on North Bruny their predation of juvenile quolls could be devastating; particularly if combined with climate change. The thriving population of Bruny’s Eastern Quolls needs to be kept safe from the impact of cats and you can help!

Visiting Bruny? Then be a champion for our precious wildlife

By embracing responsible practices, you can help protect Bruny Island's incredible ecosystem by:

  • Exploring the island without bringing your cat along
  • Report any cat sightings through FeralCatScan
  • Avoid feeding stray cats
  • Keep food waste and animal feed safe from wildlife

To report your observations, visit www.feralcatscan.org.au or use the smartphone app, and join us in contributing to the conservation efforts here on Bruny Island.

Apple QR Code

Apple QR Code

Android QR Code

Android QR Code

Supporting Bruny's Wildlife: Feral Cat Monitoring

The Bruny Island Cat Management Project launched in 2017, with the aim of reducing the number of cats roaming on the island to keep wildlife safe. NRM South, Kingborough Council and NRE Biosecurity have worked with the community to better understand the issue.

In addition to providing unrestricted research access to all our Nature Sanctuaries, Bruny Island Coastal Retreats has generously donated significant funds to support the BICMP in protecting Bruny Island's native species.

UTAS researcher, Cyril Scomparin, used this funding in his 2018 research to determine the impact of removing cats on seabird colonies. Alarmingly, seabird colonies on Bruny Island have some of the highest recorded cat densities in Australia, with densities at The Neck seabird colony as high as 15.5 cats per square kilometre! Monitoring and trapping throughout the project has reduced these numbers five-fold, to around 3 cats/km2, with the Neck’s little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters becoming safer because of this!

Message from the students of Bruny Island WildsCOOL Sticker

Responsible Cat Ownership: Bruny Island Cat By-Law

To ensure the welfare of our island's unique wildlife, all cats that live on or regularly visit Bruny Island must be registered with Kingborough Council, desexed, microchipped, and contained within their owner's property. A limit of two cats per household applies without a permit, and feeding stray cats is prohibited.

Kingborough Council has supported cat owners on the island by providing free registration, discounted desexing and microchipping. Through the support of Bruny Island Community Association, Bruny Island Environmental Network, Bruny Men’s Shed and 10 Lives Cat Centre, many Bruny cats now have a contained outdoor palace to enjoy, keeping them, and our wildlife safe!

Fixing the Cat-astrophe!
Fixing the Cat-astrophe!

Men’s Shed and Bruny Island Environment Network volunteers installing Cat enclosures.

Cat Mansion on Bruny Island

Truffle’s Cat Mansion on Bruny Island

If you have a cat, you can be a champion for your local wildlife by desexing your cat and keeping them contained - even if you aren’t living on Bruny Island!

Caring for Cats on Bruny Island: The Alonnah Cat Facility

Alonnah Cat Shack - Protecting Wildlife at BrunyIsland.au

The Cat Shack at Alonnah offers a compassionate solution for community members seeking new homes for their cats or dealing with trapped stray cats. It provides a place where cats receive care, assessment, and are either reunited with their owners - or, if possible - rehomed by the Ten Lives Cat Centre.

As an island teeming with rare and captivating species, Bruny holds a special place in the hearts of all fellow islanders and spellbound visitors. By understanding the challenges posed by feral, stray, and free-roaming pet cats, we can all play a part in protecting and preserving this extraordinary ecosystem for generations to come through responsible pet ownership, regular sighting reports, and the continued support of such local initiatives; therefore, contributing to the island's continued conservation and future vitality.

To find out more about Bruny Island's Cat Management Project -

Visit NRM South:
https://nrmsouth.org.au/eastern-quoll-bruny-island/#1626143492128-aad5e664-0ea0

Kingborough Council:
https://www.kingborough.tas.gov.au/services/animal-management/cats/cats-bruny-island/

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